Under the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA), refugee claimants arriving under a formal Canada-U.S. agreement may be turned back and invited to seek asylum in the country where they arrived. The agreement could be a violation of U.S. refugee protection law. In addition, Guatemala cannot be considered a “safe third country” due to a lack of infrastructure to assist large numbers of refugees. The United States has confirmed its intention to send Mexican asylum seekers to Guatemala, although the outgoing Guatemalan government refuses to allow the outsourcing of Mexican asylum seekers. Julie Taub, a lawyer in charge of immigration and refugees, says the Canada Border Services Agency has lost its capacity since the agreement was put in place in late 2004 and would be “overwhelmed” if the agreement were repealed.  Agreements have been reached on safe third countries to share responsibility for assisting asylum seekers and to ensure that they are safe and protected from the damage they flee. The Trump administration`s repeated attacks on the legal immigration system — as well as the president`s hateful rhetoric toward asylum seekers — show that this government does not recognize or want to assume its responsibility to protect asylum seekers. Under the Trump administration, the Department of Homeland Security has pressured the governments of Central American countries to sign agreements to prevent migrants from traveling north to the U.S.-Mexico border.
Guatemala. Most asylum seekers from El Salvador and Honduras pass through Guatemala. The Trump administration signed an agreement with President Jimmy Morales in July after threatening to impose tariffs that would force these asylum seekers to stay in Guatemala. The U.S. could then send back those who go there. However, the agreement has been challenged by the country`s Constitutional Court and it is unclear whether it will be implemented. In the past, two countries have negotiated agreements on “safe third countries” to better manage the influx of refugees and asylum at their borders. This agreement is signed on the premise that both countries can offer asylum to people in distress. This is not the case with the Trump administration`s agreements with Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. The CCR continues to call on the Canadian government to withdraw from the Safe Third Country Agreement.
The CCR participated in a legal challenge to deportation from the United States as a safe third country shortly after it went into effect. The Federal Court ruled that the United States is not a safe third country, but the decision was overturned on appeal for technical reasons (see here for more information). The agreements effectively prevent migrants from accessing the U.S. asylum system and force them to seek refuge in countries facing high rates of violence and poverty, which lack institutions and infrastructure to assist large numbers of refugees, and face serious social, economic and environmental problems. . . .