Research: Refugee Rights

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Want to advocate for the rights of refugee in Canada?

With our latest report, Reclaiming Protection, CPJ amplifies the call for an overhaul to the Safe Third Country Agreement, a policy that allows the Canada Border Services Agency to return refugee claimants to the U.S. The agreement is based on the idea that refugees should make their claim in the first "safe" country in which they arrive, but under the current U.S. Administration, there is much reason to believe that the U.S. is not a safe place for refugees.

Including first-hand accounts from refugee claimants, this resource calls people in Canada to ask the government to uphold the rights of refugees and:

Refuse to mischaracterize refugee claimants as "illegal" border crossers

Some Members of Parliament have described refugee claimants as "illegals," which has served to create public discord and unwarranted fear. This has also created a public narrative that falsely conflates seeking refugee protection with criminality. Considering the platforms of these individuals, it is paramount that they not spread misinformation about such a vulnerable population. 

Restore access to refugee protection at the Canada-U.S. border

Because of the Safe Third Country Agreement, only refugee claimants that meet a narrow set of exceptions can make a claim at an official border point. As a result, a majority of claimants have no choice but to enter Canada between Ports of Entry in order to apply for protection, often at great risk to themselves. By allowing refugee claimants to make their claims directly at the border, Canada can restore a sense of safety and dignity for refugees.  

Rescind the Safe Third Country Agreement with the U.S.

By rescinding the STCA, Canada will allow refugees from the U.S. to once again have access to protection in Canada. This will greatly reduce irregular border crossings, restore public confidence in Canada’s refugee system, and uphold the rights of each individual refugee. Considering the more than 25.4 million refugees around the world today, Canada must do its part to respond to growing global demands for refugee protection.

Reclaiming Protection


"Reclaiming protection" provides background on the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA), which has allowed the Canada Border Services Agency to return refugee claimants to the U.S. since December 2014. The policy is based on the premise that refugees should make their claim in the first "safe" country in which they arrive. But as anti-refugee policies continue to be introduced south of the border, there is much reason to believe that the U.S. is no longer a safe haven for many refugees.

This report provides tools to advocate for an end to the STCA, which has restricted access to refugee protection, put refugees in danger, and failed to uphold their rights to receive a fair hearing in Canada.

Safe Third Country Agreement: FAQ

Current immigration developments south of the border call for a closer look at the relationship between Canada and United States immigration policy. The Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA), in operation since 2004, was created under the assumption that both countries tackle immigration in the same way. 

In light of recent policy changes, it's important to be informed about what the STCA means for refugees who may seek refuge in Canada from the United States.

Here's what you need to know. 

A Half Welcome

A Half Welcome April 2017
Download the report (PDF)

This report examines the main policy challenges Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAHs) face today. Drawing on the responses SAH representatives provided through interviews and a survey, this report highlights four main areas of concern: long wait times, wait times for non-Syrian applications, allocation limits, and travel loans.

"The Invisible Victims"

Invisible Victims  July 2015
Download the Report

This study demonstrates the severely negative effects that a minimum residency requirement for social assistance would have on refugee claimants in Canada. After conducting a survey of service providers who work directly with refugees as well as gathering personal testimonies from claimants, the report provides ample evidence that the policy would be inadvisable on economic, humanitarian, and legal grounds.

"Private Sponsorship and Public Policy"

Cover September 2014
"Private Sponsorship and Public Policy" is a survey of church connected sponsorship agreements holders, those two assist refugees in their resettlement. It outlines their top concerns with government policy including wait times, health cuts, and consultation. 
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