Groups ask Federal Court to strike down Safe Third Country deal with the U.S.

Posted
July 6, 2017

A legal challenge is being launched against the Canada-U.S. agreement that governs where people can make asylum claims on either side of the border.

Three advocacy groups are throwing their support behind a woman being named only as "E" in asking the Federal Court to strike down the so-called Safe Third Country Agreement.

Under the deal, most people who make an asylum claim at the land border are denied entry; as a result, there's been an influx of people crossing illegally into Canada in recent months to file asylum claims.

The Canadian Council for Refugees, Amnesty International and the Canadian Council of Churches are among the many groups urging Canada to suspend the arrangement following major changes to U.S. immigration and refugee policy since the election of President Donald Trump.

But now they're asking the Federal Court to step in, arguing that sending claimants back to the U.S. is morally and legally wrong because it risks violating their basic rights.The federal Liberals have said they believe the deal does not need to be suspended or altered, as the asylum system in the United States is still functioning.

The litigant in the case is described as a Salvadoran woman who fled after being targeted by a gang and who believes she won't be protected in the U.S.

It's not the first time the deal has been tested in court.

A legal challenge was mounted after it came into force in 2004, and while the Federal Court at the time agreed the U.S. may not be safe for all refugees, the decision was overturned on appeal.

Read more: Groups ask Federal Court to strike down Safe Third Country deal with the U.S.