Canada has long been viewed as a country that is open to migrants. But the reality is far more complex and is increasingly colored by events taking place south of the border.
In particular, the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement, which took effect in 2004 and requires asylum-seekers to apply for refuge in their first country of arrival, has cast some doubt on the narrative of Canadian tolerance. Over the past decade, Canadian authorities have denied entrance to thousands of migrants seeking asylum, many of them from African countries such as Somalia, Nigeria, Sudan and Ghana. In all likelihood, it has discouraged many more from attempting to reach the border in the first place.
Rights advocates criticized the agreement when it was signed into law, but it has come under renewed scrutiny in light of U.S. President Donald Trump’s rhetoric and executive orders targeting refugees. Already, there are growing reports of asylum-seekers making lengthy and dangerous treks through wooded areas and snow fields in sub-zero temperatures to reach Canada, rather than go through established border crossings, where they would be turned back under the terms of the agreement.