Press Release: Don’t Seek Asylum in Canada Without FIRST Getting Legal Advice

USA-Canada Cross Border Network
For Immediate Release
Date: April 9, 2021



Don’t Seek Asylum in Canada Without FIRST Getting Legal Advice: Canadian Border Closed Indefinitely to Most Asylum Seekers


Even as mass vaccination is being rolled out in Canada and the United States, the border between the two countries remains closed to most asylum seekers, due to the pandemic. Local agencies are seeing increased inquiries about crossing the border into Canada to claim refugee status. At this time however, most people seeking refuge are not permitted to enter Canada and are directed back to the United States immediately. The border is likely to remain closed for the foreseeable future.

Restrictions on who can enter Canada are in place both at official ports of entry and at unofficial crossings such as the one at Roxham Road, New York. There is still a significant risk that people directed back by Canadian border authorities will be detained and placed in removal proceedings by U.S. authorities. Other asylum seekers with little or no resources are getting stranded at the border after being directed back.

We strongly encourage people to get advice from a trusted refugee lawyer or support organization before making plans to cross the U.S.-Canada border. Unless asylum seekers meet the very narrow exceptions provided by the Safe Third Country Agreement, they will be directed back. More information about exceptions to the Safe Third Country Agreement can be found HERE. Even if you believe you meet an exception to the Safe Third Country Agreement, you should still seek legal advice
before attempting to cross the border at an official port of entry.

Contacts for Media

Bridges Not Borders – Créons des ponts, Québec, Canada
Email: bridgesnotborders.ca@gmail.com

Alex Vernon – Detroit Mercy School of Law – Detroit, USA
Phone: 313-444-9222
Email: vernonag@udmercy.edu

Mary Schaefer – Vive Shelter, Buffalo New York State
Phone: 716-575-5589
Email: mary.schaefer@jrchc.org

Information for Asylum Seekers

Freedom House – Detroit, Michigan USA
Phone: 313- 964-4320
https://freedomhousedetroit.org/need-help/

Bridges Not Borders – Créons des ponts, Québec, Canada
Email: bridgesnotborders.ca@gmail.com
Website: http://www.bridgesnotborders.ca/info-1.html (info for asylum seekers)

Alex Vernon – Detroit Mercy School of Law – Detroit, USA
Email: vernonag@udmercy.edu
Phone: 313-444-9222

Vive Shelter – Buffalo, New York State
Phone: 716-892-4354
Email: viveinfo@jrchc.org
Website: jrchc.org/vive/information-for-asylum-seekers

For more information on the COVID border closures for asylum seekers:

https://www.unhcr.ca/in-canada/making-refugee-claim/

For more information on the Safe Third Country Agreement:

https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/corporate/publicationsmanuals/
operational-bulletins-manuals/refugee-protection/canada/processing-claims-protection-safethird-
country-agreement.html

https://ccrweb.ca/en/safe-third-country

For more information on the STCA court proceedings in Canada:

https://ccrweb.ca/en/media/federal-court-must-uphold-decision-STCA

Sources:

USA – Canada Cross Border Network. C/O Canadian Sanctuary Network (https://sanctuarycanada.ca). A Network of NGOs and lawyers in Canada and the USA, helping asylum seekers, in particular those directed back to the US due to the STCA or the pandemic border closure.

Bridges Not Borders – Créons des ponts is a bilingual grassroots group in Quebec near Roxham Road, supporting and advocating for asylum seekers. www.bridgesnotborders.ca

Alex Vernon, Director, Immigration Law Clinic, University of Detroit Mercy School of Law

The Canadian Sanctuary Network advocates for the fair treatment for refugees and seeks remedies for refugees who face removal to a country where they are at
risk. (https://www.sanctuarycanada.ca/)

Cross Border Network Statement on Pushbacks

January 31, 2021

REPORT ON PUSHBACKS AT THE US-CANADA BORDER
US-CANADA CROSS BORDER NETWORK SUBMISSION TO THE UN SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON HUMAN RIGHTS OF MIGRANTS

Introduction

The US-Canada Cross-Border Network is a network that includes 18 organizations across eight US states and four Canadian provinces. The US-Canada Cross-Border Network is dedicated to cross-border cooperation with the goal of sharing information about conditions at the US-Canada border, as well as improving migrants’ access to practical support and legal representation.

Members of the US-Canada Cross-Border Network witness first-hand the effects of measures to prevent people from crossing borders to seek asylum, including pushbacks. We recognize that the US is not safe for all refugees. The use of pushbacks without considering the human rights implications thereof or the risks people face if pushed back, including the risk of detention and refoulement, is inconsistent with Canada’s international legal obligations. We urge the Canadian government to open the US-Canada border to people fleeing persecution.

Read More

MeetGary: New Resource for Refugee Claimants in Canada

Announcing a new resource for refugee claimants in Canada: www.MeetGary.ca. This site tries to give claimants an idea of what Board members see as credibility ‘red flags.’ With the support of the Law Foundation of Ontario, it is now available in French, Spanish, Arabic, Farsi and Chinese.

Hilary Evans Cameron | Assistant Professor (she/her)

Faculty of Law, Ryerson University

Centre for Refugee Studies External Affiliate

Press Release: Asylum Seekers Continue to be Turned Away from Canadian Border

Misinformation about Border Conditions Is Putting Migrants at Risk

Detroit, MI – 28 August 2020

Growing numbers of people are traveling to the US-Canada border with the hopes of crossing into Canada to claim refugee status. However, most people are not permitted to enter Canada and are directed back to the US. Restrictions on who can enter Canada are in place both at official ports of entry and at unofficial crossings such as the one at Roxham Road, New York. There is a significant risk that people directed back will be detained in the US Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE) and placed in removal proceedings. 

Due to the COVID-19 border closure, unofficial refugee crossings into Canada, such as the one at Roxham Road, New York, are closed. Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) continue to be stationed at Roxham Road. People caught attempting to cross into Canada at unofficial crossings such as Roxham Road will be directed back to the US, where they may be detained.

Under the Safe Third Country Agreement, many people are not permitted to apply for refugee status in Canada at official ports of entry. Despite the Federal Court of Canada ruling on July 22, 2020, that the Safe Third Country Agreement is unconstitutional, the Agreement remains in effect. There are some specific exceptions to the Safe Third Country Agreement. Certain people can claim refugee status at an official Port of Entry at the Canadian border. These exceptions include:

  • People who have specific types of family members in Canada, 
  • Unaccompanied children under the age of 18 who do not have a parent or guardian in Canada or the US. 
  • Refugee claimants who are U.S. citizens or Stateless Persons habitually living in the U.S.
  • People who have visas or travel documents allowing travel to Canada, or people from countries that do not require a visa for Canada, but do require a visa for the U.S. (e.g. Mexico, Hong Kong SAR) 

Anyone who wants to make a refugee claim in Canada should talk to someone with expertise in Canadian immigration and refugee law before traveling to the US-Canada border. Non-profit organizations who work with refugees may be able to refer you to a lawyer who is qualified to practice immigration and refugee law in Canada. A qualified lawyer can provide advice about who is permitted to apply for refugee status in Canada under the Safe Third Country Agreement and COVID-19 border closures.

Contacts:

Bridge Not Borders – Créons des ponts, Quebec, Canada

Email: bridgesnotborders.ca@gmail.com

Alec Vernon – Detroit Mercy School of Law – Detroit, USA

Phone: 313-444-9222

Email: vernonag@udmercy.edu  

For more information on the COVID border closures:

https://www.unhcr.ca/newsroom/key-information-asylum-seekers/

http://www.bridgesnotborders.ca/info-1.html (information in English, French and Spanish)

For more information on recent court ruling:

https://ccrweb.ca/en/organizations-welcome-court-ruling-safe-third-country

https://ccrweb.ca/fr/decision-cour-sur-tiers-pays-surs-accueillie

For more information on the Safe Third Country Agreement:

https://ccrweb.ca/en/safe-third-country

https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/corporate/publications-manuals/operational-bulletins-manuals/refugee-protection/canada/processing-claims-protection-safe-third-country-agreement.html

Source:

Bridges Not Borders – Créons des ponts is a bilingual grassroots group near Roxham Road supporting and advocating for asylum seekers. (http://www.bridgesnotborders.ca/)

Alex Vernon, Director, Immigration Law Clinic, University of Detroit Mercy School of Law

The Saratoga Immigration Coalition is a network of civic groups, faith communities and concerned individuals that seeks to foster, through support, education and advocacy, a community that is welcoming to all immigrants without regard to legal status. (https://www.facebook.com/Saratoga-Immigration-Coalition-458540114506608)

The Canadian Sanctuary Network advocates for the fair treatment for refugees and seeks remedies for refugees who face removal to a country where they are at risk. (http://www.sanctuarycanada.ca/)

Beyond Tweets

7:00pm at Church of the Holy Trinity, Trinity Square, Toronto.

  • Deborah Anker Director, Harvard University Immigrant and Refugee Clinic 
  • Janet Dench Director, Canadian Council for Refugees 
  • Mary Jo Leddy Canadian Sanctuary Network
  • John Fife Co-founder of the Sanctuary movement in the USA
  • Amy Casipullai [moderator] Policy Director, Ontario Coalition of Agencies Serving Immigrants

Report on the German sanctuary movement

A Most Remarkable Outreach to Refugees: a report from the churches in Germany,  June 9, 2015, 7pm, Church of the Holy Trinity, Toronto.

The unprecedented Sanctuary movement in Germany today—with over 80,000 Syrian refugees accepted into the country, over 220 churches have offered Sanctuary and support to people fleeing war and devastation. Hanns Thomae, former director of the Refugee Outreach in Berlin and Brandenburg and member of the the ecumenical network, and Rita Kantemir-Thomae, Green Party MP and activist for migrant and refugee rights, will speak at this event.

video of the meeting is embedded below (or link here).

Sanctuary: Myths, Movement, Momentum

Sanctuary: Myths, Movement, Momentum” conference in Vancouver

Where: First Lutheran Church, 5745 Wales St, Vancouver, BC V5R 3N3

When: 7:00-9:00 pm, Friday, 28 November 2014.

Speakers include:

  • Irina Ceric, lawyer and scholar
  • Rev. Laurel Dykstra, Anglican theologian
  • Rev. Susan Johnson, ELCIC National Bishop
  • Ministers from three Lower Mainland congregations supporting persons in sanctuary
  • Three asylum seekers currently in sanctuary
  • Don Davies MP

Sanctuary Network joins May Day march

On May 1, 2013, the Sanctuary Network joined the May Day march in solidarity with refugees, together with Christian Peacemaker Teams, and Student Christian Movement.

We march for all the refugees living in sanctuary– in churches and in faith-based communities everywhere. We march for the right of refugees to stay, to live, to work, to build, to create and imagine and for their freedom of movement. We march in support of all the churches and faith-based communities who have opened their doors in solidarity with refugees. We march against Bill C-31 and the draconian refugee system which makes it increasingly difficult for refugees to get a fair hearing, and we march for all those who have been denied status, those who have been deported, and those who have died.

We march for radical faith in action to support the most vulnerable among us.

Open the Door: Refugees, Faith and the Sanctuary

7:30pm at St Paul’s Anglican Church, 45 Russell Street West, Lindsay ON.

The changes to Canada’s refugee law which came into effect on December 15 are already having a devastating impact on people seeking safety from violence and persecution. The speakers will discuss some of the effects of the new law, and why some faith communities feel that offering sanctuary is an obligation of conscience.

Moderator: Sylvia Keesmaat, Biblical Scholar, Cameron

Speakers: J. Santiago Rodriguez, SJ, Romero House, Toronto
Tamara Hoogerdyk, New Canadians Centre, Peterborough
Michael VanDerHerberg, New Canadians Centre, Peterborough

Download poster (pdf)

Sponsored by the Canadian Sanctuary Network, the New Canadians Centre, St Paul’s Anglican Church, and St James Anglican Church, Fenelon Falls.