Episode #13 – Problems with the Safe Third Country Agreement and Interdiction, With Efrat Arbel

Efrat Arbel is Assistant Professor at the Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia.  She is an executive member of the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers.  A list of Dr. Arbel’s recent publications can be found here.

During this podcast we talk about three areas that Dr. Arbel has recently focused her research on.  These include the distinction between physical borders and legal borders in the refugee context, how interdiction works, and the Safe Third Country Agreement.

The Safe Third Country Agreement between Canada and the United States requires that persons seeking refugee protection must make a claim in the first country they arrive in unless they qualify for an exception to the Agreement.  In other words, an asylum seeker who wishes to seek refugee status in Canada will typically be denied the ability to do so if they attempt to enter Canada by land from the United States.

This episode was recorded before President Trump’s recent Executive Order imposed a moratorium on asylum claims in the United States. President Trump’s decision has only intensified and magnified many of the issues that Dr. Arbel discusses in this podcast.

1:43 – Dr. Arbel explains different concepts of what a country’s border is, and the distinction between the physical border and the legal border.

4:10 – We discuss the Canada Border Services Agency’s multiple border strategy, the role of Canada Border Services Agency liaison officers, and interdiction.

16:15 – We briefly summarize Canada’s new Electronic Travel Authorisation.

19:00 – Dr. Arbel provides an overview of global refugee flows.

22:50 – Can claim asylum at a Canadian embassy abroad.

28:30 – Peter Edelmann addresses how the previous government tried to address the supply and demand of refugee intake.

33:20 – Steven asks Dr. Arbel what she thinks about the Government of Canada’s recent announcement that if a certain number of Mexicans claim asylum then the visa requirement against Mexico will be re-imposed.

41:00 – We introduce the Safe Third Country Agreement.

44:00 – Why someone would prefer to claim refugee status in Canada rather than the United States.

51:40 – What are the exceptions to the Safe Third Country Agreement?

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