Tens of thousands of asylum-seekers have entered Canada from the US since Donald Trump’s election, but border officers have been overruled by lawyers on a handful of occasions
Canada has ended its policy of turning back asylum-seekers between official border crossings, officials say, after hundreds of people were illegally crossing into Canada through blazing hot deserts in the United States.
Asylum-seekers crossing at established border crossings in Ontario and Quebec have experienced slow check-ins by Canadian border guards who have been overruled by lawyers when they consider that the asylum-seekers are fleeing persecution in their home countries.
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While northbound border crossings are governed by international treaties that require them to facilitate asylum-seekers, refugee protection under Canadian law is limited to refugees fleeing persecution for political or religious reasons.
Tens of thousands of asylum-seekers have entered Canada from the US since Donald Trump’s election, but Canadian border officers have been overruled by lawyers on a handful of occasions on whether they are fleeing persecution, not just for economic reasons.
Under the policy change, which is now law, border officials will have to justify their decisions based on each individual case.
“If you’re a huge influx of people, there’s a very low threshold that you have to meet,” said Jackie Charette, a spokeswoman for immigration minister Ahmed Hussen. “They [a border officer] have to make a decision, and if they don’t follow the policy, it will be challenged in court.”
A detention hearing would also take place, Charette said.
She said it is not yet clear how much time border guards will spend on the ground at the US-Canada border, but border officials said they would stop reminding asylum-seekers to buy tickets to take them there.
Initially there were fears that the change could lead to a surge in immigration, but under the new law, asylum-seekers caught at a border crossing with a United States border crossing will be given another date in court to answer questions about why they are seeking asylum and whether they have credible fear of persecution.
The UN Refugee Agency has said Canada should accept all asylum-seekers who arrive on its territory.