The following is an op-ed written by Shauna Labman and Jamie Liew, refugee and immigration law professors at the University of Manitoba and University of Ottawa, respectively. Their article originally appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press on May 5, 2018.
Alongside the spring melt, conversation has ramped up on border crossings from the United States. Alberta MP Michelle Rempel calls some border crossings “unplanned immigration” and worries about how discussion may “switch from ‘how we do immigration’ to ‘if we do immigration.’”
Whether we like it or not, some immigration will inevitably be “unplanned” since refugees are fleeing unexpected circumstances. This is all the more important given that Canada has legal obligations to assess just how we should treat persons at our borders.
Canadians need to understand what the law really says about refugee protection to assess Rempel’s proposal to designate the entire Canadian land border as a port of entry. The Conservative immigration critic wants to trigger the Safe Third Country Agreement and return asylum seekers to the United States regardless of where they cross.