A brief guide to navigating the Canadian-American border

The National Observer’s Bill Glauber has a helpful guide to navigating the confusing system for the ill-equipped travelers at the Canadian-American border who seek asylum.

From the Observer:

The idea of turning people back at the Canada-US border would infuriate human-rights advocates, conservatives and libertarians. But it’s about to happen. Canada is changing the rules regarding those seeking asylum at its northern border, forcing people back to their point of origin should they seek it. And they’re not doing it on merit alone. To begin with, how can it be fair for those who have only a plausible argument for fear based on perceived threats to their safety to be turned back? It’s unclear what will happen to those who make unfounded claims: Will they remain in jail? Can they be deported to a country they perceive to be unsafe? The answer is likely yes. But the system used by Canada’s immigration agency, known as the Canada Border Services Agency, also punishes those who are deemed to have been rejected from the system. Under the current system, if the agency finds that a person has made an asylum claim that is determined to be unfounded, he or she can be detained for three days. If they are found to be in Canada without authorization, they can be detained for up to two weeks while a removal order is processed. If they are remanded into custody after that period, they can spend three weeks in detention. If a removal order is found to be based on an unfounded claim, the person may be detained for up to 14 days. They can also be detained while their legal rights are being considered.

While this might be good news for the Americans fleeing the same office of nightmares as the American government’s, the government faces the same problems that currently plague the United States’ immigration system: denying visas to citizens of countries (most recently, Iran) and blocking access to certain information. Canada’s policy clearly violates the UN Refugee Convention, but it sounds to me like the two countries are also implementing separate set of humanitarian principles for those attempting to cross into their country from the US — but there’s no mechanism for reuniting children separated from their parents by the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy.

For more on how difficult (and confusing) it is to navigate the U.S.-Canada refugee system, check out this fantastic anecdotal guide from Amnesty International on the airports where asylum-seekers are flooding into the country:

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