Reclaiming Protection

Advocating for an end to the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement

June 2018
Download the full resource (PDF)

A large number of refugee claimants who have arrived in Canada from the U.S. throughout the past year. The Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) allows the Canada Border Services Agency to return refugee claimants to the U.S. under the premise that refugees should make their claim in the first “safe” country in which they arrive. According to the Government of Canada, “Only countries that respect human rights and offer a high degree of protection to asylum seekers may be designated as safe third countries.”

There is much reason to believe that these standards are no longer upheld in the U.S. On June 5, 2018, the UN Human Rights Office raised concern over the separation of migrant children from their families by U.S. border officials. On June 11, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that domestic and gang violence would no longer qualify as grounds for asylum in the U.S., a decision that will have sweeping effects, particularly on refugee women affected by gender-based violence. Additionally, the Trump Administration recently suggested designating Mexico as a safe third country, yet overwhelmingly, evidence demonstrates significant gaps in Mexico’s asylum system.

This report details how the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement has restricted access to refugee protection, put refugees in danger, and failed to uphold their rights to receive a fair hearing in Canada.


Pages 3-5 provide background on the STCA. Learn about the scale of the current international refugee crisis and increasingly anti-refugee policies from the current U.S. administration that have made the country unsafe for many refugees.


Pages 6-8 showcase the first-hand experiences of several refugee claimants and explain some of the harsh conditions in their countries of origin. Explore how the STCA has impacted real people in search of safety.


Pages 9-12 provide guidance to advocate for a just approach to refugee protection in Canada. Call for a compassionate, realistic, and proactive policy response to best meet the increased needs of refugees from around the world.

Raise your voice to see the Safe Third Country Agreement rescinded once and for all.

Download the full resource (PDF)

Download the 6-page summary (PDF)

Download the draft letter (DOC)

Ask the government to uphold the rights of refugees and:

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