Canada was taken to court over an epidemic-era policy that pushes asylum seekers into the US

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A Canadian border crossing on March 18, 2020 in Lakole, Que.

Ryan Ramirez / The Canadian Press

Canada’s epidemic-era policy of withdrawing refugees trying to enter the cross-border border is illegal and violates their rights, a legal action was filed on Tuesday.

The Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers took legal action in federal court, claiming that it was unlawful because it failed to consider the status of asylum seekers and whether they had appropriate options available.

According to a copy of the legal action seen by Reuters, the policy also deprives refugees of their right to be heard.

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This is the first legal action against this policy since its inception in response to COVID-19 in March 2020.

According to the Canada Border Services Agency, between March 21, 2020 and April 20, 2021, Canada returned 387 refugees trying to cross between ports of entry.

Even though Canada said they could return at a later date to make refugee claims, legal action argues that Canada is not ensuring that the refugees are temporary.

Canada has previously stated that the turn-back policy, which it is renewing monthly, is an essential public health measure. Canada also says that there is an assurance from the United States that “most” of the refugees will be returned to Canada to pursue asylum claims.

The third country agreement secured between Canada and the US states that a refugee claimant must seek asylum before the two countries they come to, but it does not cover asylum seekers who arrive in Canada from a non-official cross-border. .

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