New Data Reveals Canada Has Turned Back 4,400 Asylum Seekers Since 2016

1,992 Refugees Unsuccessfully Attempted To Enter Canada The Year After Trump Was Elected

At least 4,400 asylum seekers have been turned away by Canadian border officials over the past five years. This is according to recent data released by the federal government in response to a parliamentary request from Member of Parliament, Jenny Kwan.

Nearly half of the 4,400 turned away asylum seekers had attempted to enter Canada in 2017, which is the same year that U.S President Donald Trump took office.

During his Presidential campaign, Trump made several promises related to immigration and refugees, including:

  • The deportation of 11 million immigrants
  • Terminating former president Barack Obama’s executive orders related to immigration, including eliminating “sanctuary cities”
  • Building a wall across the U.S-Mexico border to block irregular border crossings

The Full Break Down of These Figures

In 2016, 742 asylum seekers were turned away by Canada at the border, and by the following year, this number had more than doubled to 1,992. After 2017, this number dipped to 744 in 2018 and 663 in 2019.

Between January 1 and September 23, 2020 — during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic — 259 people were turned back at the border.

According to CBC News, Kwan described the numbers as “really disturbing.”

“In the face of a pandemic, things are even more precarious for people who need to get to safety and Canada actually did not hesitate to turn people back,” she said.

Kwan added that due to Trump’s deportation policies that violate international human rights and anti-refugee statements, Canada becomes “complicit” in the violation of human rights by forcing refugees back to the U.S.

The Safe Third Country Agreement

The decision to block the 4,400 asylum seekers from entering Canada was made in accordance with the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA).

The STCA, which has been in effect since 2004, designates Canada and the U.S as “safe countries” for refugees and requires asylum seekers to make refugee claims in the first country they arrive in. For refugees that travel to Canada through the U.S, they are required to return to the U.S to file their refugee claims there.

The agreement has faced harsh criticism over the years, with critics and refugee advocacy groups calling the STCA inhumane, as the U.S is not, in fact, a safe country for many refugees, especially while President Trump is in office.

The STCA was even found to infringe on Charter rights by a Federal Court justice earlier this year. However, the federal government is currently appealing this ruling.