Quebec immigration lawyers want Canada out of Safe Third Country Agreement

Quebec immigration lawyers want Canada out of Safe Third Country Agreement


A Quebec association of immigration lawyers is calling upon Canada to withdraw from the Safe Third Country Agreement in the wake of a series of immigration orders issued by U.S. President Donald Trump.

Among the executive orders issued last weekend by Trump is a 90-day ban on entry to the U.S. to those leaving seven majority Muslim countries: Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. A U.S. federal court in the district of New York has meanwhile issued a stay on any deportations caused by the order, citing the risk of legal prejudice for those effected by it.

The Safe Third Country Agreement, signed between Canada and the U.S., stipulates that anyone seeking refugee status must do so in the first country they entered.

Jean-Sébastien Boudreault, president of the Association québécoise des avocats et avocates en droit de l’immigration, said on Monday that someone seeking refugee status and coming from the U.S. could not seek asylum at the Canadian border except under certain conditions, the most notable being having family members in this country.

Boudreault said that while both Canada and the U.S. had similar immigration policies when the agreement was signed in 2002, that was no longer the case since Trump’s executive orders and Canada should withdraw from the agreement.

“A lot of people think the agreement should never have been signed,” he said. “We believe, at the very least, that it should be put on ice for the moment. I think that what with what’s coming and what we’ve seen in the past, this agreement should be completely destroyed and voided.”

The association has written about the issue to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, seeking that the agreement be subject to a moratorium until both immigration systems “again become similar and that agreement may take effect.”

Boudreault said that Trudeau’s announcement last weekend that Canada will continue to welcome anyone seeking asylum in this country whatever their religion or country of origin was insufficient.

“We’re playing with people’s lives,” he said. “We’re playing with people’s rights and creating two types of asylum seekers.”