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Based on a recent report published by the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic (HIRC), entitled Bordering on Failure: Canada–U.S. Border Policy and the Politics of Refugee Exclusion, this talk will examine the Canada–US Safe Third Country Agreement, a ‘refugee sharing’ agreement implemented by Canada and the United States to exercise more control over their shared border. Drawing on interview data collected along the Canada–US border, it will evaluate how the Agreement has altered the Canada–US border landscape, and the effects it has had on asylum seekers.

The HIRC report concludes that the Safe Third Country Agreement not only closes Canada’s borders to asylum seekers, but also diminishes the legal protections available to them under domestic and international law. It further concludes that the Agreement has failed in its goal of enhancing the integrity of the Canada–US border, and has in fact prompted a rise in human smuggling and unauthorised border crossings, making the border more dangerous and disorderly, and placing the lives and safety of asylum seekers at risk. The talk will highlight these central findings, and, situating the Agreement in its global context, also examine the broader effects of its implementation.

About the speakers

Deborah E Anker 

Deborah Anker is Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Harvard Law School Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program (HIRC). She has taught law students at Harvard for over 25 years. Author of a leading treatise, Law of Asylum in the United States, Anker has co-drafted ground-breaking gender asylum guidelines and amicus curiae briefs. Professor Anker is one of the most widely known asylum scholars and practitioners in the United States; she is cited frequently by international and domestic courts and tribunals, including the United States Supreme Court. Professor Anker is a pioneer in the development of clinical legal education in the immigration field, training students in direct representation of refugees and creating a foundation for clinics at law schools around the country.

Efrat A Arbel

Efrat Arbel is Assistant Professor of Law at the University of British Columbia. She completed her masters and doctoral studies at Harvard Law School, during which time she was actively involved with the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Law Clinic. Dr Arbel researches in the areas of constitutional law, refugee law, Aboriginal law, and prison law, in Canada and the United States. She has published widely in these fields, and is co-author (with Alletta Brenner) of Bordering on Failure: Canada–U.S. Border Policy and the Politics of Refugee Exclusion. Combining her scholarly work with legal practice, Dr Arbel is also engaged in advocacy and litigation involving refugee and prisoner rights, and is an executive member of the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers.

Border Criminologies