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Court to hear case on whether asylum agreement with U.S. violates charter

OTTAWA — A long-awaited legal look into whether the U.S. remains a safe country for refugees begins today at a Federal Court in Toronto.

At issue is an international agreement that prohibits people from crossing into Canada from the U.S. at formal crossings and asking for asylum.

It’s called the Safe Third Country Agreement and was signed 17 years ago by Canada and the U.S., but recently has come under intense scrutiny as the U.S. has tightened its asylum rules and regulations.

Refugee advocacy groups say the new American regime effectively cancels out the idea that the U.S. is safe for refugees, and therefore the agreement violates people’s charter and other rights.

The case was launched in 2017 after a Salvadoran woman attempted to enter Canada at an official border crossing to ask for asylum, and was told she was inadmissible because of the deal.

In their filings, the federal government argues the U.S. asylum system still functions with checks and balances that provide adequate protection.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Nov. 4, 2019.

The Canadian Press

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