By Lawrence Belanger
Local Journalism Initiative
Asylum-seekers wanting to enter Canada since 2004 have had to contend with a treaty known as the Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement, which stipulates that asylum claimants who enter either the United States or Canada must make their claim in the country where they first arrived. Since implementation, legal challenges have arisen regarding its constitutionality under Canadian law, on the basis that the United States does not qualify as a safe third country and that it interferes with Canada’s international obligations.
Cheney Cortes, a regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant and migrant rights activist based in Sherbrooke, criticized the agreement and called for its abolition. “They have to take the agreement down because people come anyway,” said Cortes. She said that, due to the prevalence of nationalist rhetoric, along with harsher laws and penalties for illegal entry in the United States, Canada presents a safer option for refugees. Conversely, Cortes says that Canada has a reputation for accepting refugees and treating them well.