A Canadian court Wednesday invalidated the country’s Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States, ruling elements of the law violate Canadian constitutional guarantees of life, liberty and security, the AP reports. But Federal Court Justice Ann Marie McDonald delayed the implementation of her decision for six months to give the Canadian Parliament time to respond. “I conclude that the provisions enacting the (safe third country agreement) infringe the guarantees in section 7 of the Charter," McDonald wrote in her decision, referring to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom, part of Canada's Constitution. “I have also concluded that the infringement is not justified under section 1 of the Charter.” Under the agreement, immigrants who want to seek asylum in Canada and present themselves at ground ports of entry from the United States are returned to the US and told to seek asylum there. But if they request asylum on Canadian soil at a location other than an official crossing, the process is allowed to go forward.
Last fall Amnesty International, the Canadian Council for Refugees, and the Canadian Council of Churches sued, arguing that the Canadian government has no guarantee that those returned to the United States will be safe because of the treatment of immigrants by the administration of President Trump. The original legal challenge cited the widespread detention of asylum seekers who are turned back from Canada and the separation of parents and children as other examples of why the US is not a “safe” country for newly arrived immigrants. On Wednesday, the three groups that filed the lawsuit said they welcomed the decision and urged the government of Canada not to appeal. The groups also urged Canada to stop returning refugee claimants to the United States immediately. They argue that if the agreement is abandoned, it would allow Canada to meet its legal obligations for the treatment of asylum seekers and allow people to present themselves at ports of entry, ending irregular crossings. (Read more Canada stories.)