Canada taken to court over COVID policy that pushes asylum-seekers to U.S.

0
17

Article content

TORONTO — Canada’s pandemic-era policy of turning back asylum-seekers trying to enter between official border crossings is unlawful and violates their rights, a legal action filed on Tuesday alleges.

The Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers filed the legal action in federal court claiming the policy is unlawful because it fails to consider the situation of asylum-seekers and whether they have reasonable alternatives available.

The policy also denies asylum-seekers their right to a hearing, according to a copy of the legal action seen by Reuters.

It is the first legal action against this policy since it was instituted in response to COVID-19 in March, 2020.

Between March 21, 2020 and April 20, 2021, Canada turned back 387 asylum-seekers trying to cross between ports of entry, according to the Canada Border Services Agency.

Even though Canada said they could return at a later date to make refugee claims, the legal action argues Canada isn’t ensuring the turn-back refugees are subject to is temporary.

Canada has previously said the turn-back policy, which it has been renewing monthly, is a necessary public health measure. Canada also says it has assurances from the United States that “most” asylum-seekers will be returned to Canada to pursue refugee claims. (Reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny Editing by Denny Thomas and Chizu Nomiyama)