OCASI's Myths and Facts about Refugee Claimants

July 10, 2018

Information from Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI):

Irregular entry is not illegal

Asylum seekers (in Canada use the term refugee claimant) have the legal right to cross the border and enter Canada to make a refugee claim. Asylum seekers are crossing irregularly – between ports of entry - but that is not illegal. They are doing so because the Safe Third Country Agreement(2004) between Canada and the United States requires Canada to send refugee claimants back to the U.S., with a few exceptions. The Safe Third Country Agreement applies only to refugee claims made at border crossings.

U.S. is not safe for refugees

The Safe Third Country Agreement is based on the assumption that the U.S. is a safe country for refugees. We believe the U.S. is not currently a safe place for refugee claimantsgiven the present administration's anti-refugee and anti-Muslim policies and practices. Refugee claimants are making a refugee claim in Canada because in the US they fear being deported back to their countries of origin where they may face persecution or violence in one form or another.

Canada has international obligations

It is not illegal for people to flee persecution or to cross borders without documents to seek asylum. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 14)states that everyone has the right to seek and enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution. The 1951 UN Refugee Conventionstated that refugees should not be penalized for their illegal entry or stay, and should not be returned to a country where they face serious threats to their life or freedom. Canada cannot close the border to people seeking refuge.

Read more: OCASI's Myths and Facts about Refugee Claimants