Two students from Harvard Law School’s Immigration and Refugee Clinic argued that the United States was no longer a “safe country” for refugees before the Inter-American Committee on Human Rights in Washington, D.C. Tuesday.
The hearing centered on Canada and the United States’ shared policy on the exchange of refugees. Following President Donald Trump’s recent executive orders cracking down on immigration, the students argued, Canada should no longer bar refugees who first land in the United States from seeking asylum in Canada—currently a provision of the Safe Third Country Agreement, a refugee exchange treaty.
The human rights committee, which promotes human rights in the Western hemisphere, granted the HIRC’s request to participate in this hearing last week. The HIRC’s team—which included HIRC Assistant Director Sabi Ardalan and Law School students Jin U. Kim and Malene C. Alleyne—centered their statements on the status of the agreement, whose integrity Kim said was imperiled by the executive orders.
“[Canada has] a whole set of review procedures that they follow every once and awhile to make sure that the country that was designated as a safe country is still a safe country,” Kim said. “By focusing on the impact of the executive orders, we were arguing that…if Canada actually does the review process again, then the US should not be designated as a safe country of asylum.’”