On October 4, 2017, the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program (HIRC) filed a request for a hearing with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to discuss the human rights situation of refugee claimants under the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) between Canada and the United States.
Under the agreement, Canada bars refugee claimants attempting to enter the country from the United States at border ports of entry on the premise that the United States is a “safe” country for refugees, with certain limited exceptions. But as HIRC made clear in its hearing request sent to the Commission, “the United States is not a safe country of asylum for persons fleeing persecution and violence.”
In the nine months since President Donald Trump’s executive orders on interior and border enforcement took effect, human rights conditions for refugee claimants in the United States have deteriorated drastically. HIRC analyzed the effects of these orders in detail in a report issued in February 2017. Refugee claimants who are returned to the United States are now more likely to face prolonged and indefinite detention; expedited removal proceedings without due process; a more stringent credible fear interview process; increased and aggressive criminal prosecution for immigration-related crimes; and return to their home countries in violation of the obligation of non-refoulement under the UN Refugee Convention and Protocol to the Convention, as well as under domestic law incorporating those obligations.