The United Church of Canada urges the government to fulfill its legal obligations to uphold refugees’ right to protection.

RCMP officers help a family of three asylum seekers, including a child, with their luggage at Roxham Road.
RCMP officers help asylum seekers as they cross the border into Canada at Roxham Road on March 24, 2023.
Credit: © THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Published On: April 4, 2023

The United Church of Canada affirms that the right to seek asylum is a human right protected under international law.   

Today, April 4, National Refugee Rights Day, Montreal City Mission, Canadian Council of Refugees and others will hold vigils across the country to protest the abrupt closing of Roxham Road, which has left refugees stranded; we mourn the loss of refugee rights.

We decry Canada’s recent extension of the Safe Third Country Agreement; vulnerable migrants are now limited from entering Canada to make refugee claims between ports of entry, such as at Roxham Road.  Racialized and vulnerable refugees, especially women and children, are endangered further because they will still try to cross the border in between ports of entry. Now, they are much more vulnerable, much more unsafe, and much more likely to be victimized by unscrupulous smugglers.

We urge the Canadian government to wait for the ruling by the Supreme Court on whether the existing agreement violates our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  

In 2022, nearly 40,000 asylum seekers crossed into Canada using Roxham Road. They are not nameless. They are not faceless. They have names, hopes, dreams. They have loved ones they’ve left behind. They are fellow humans who seek safety because they are unsafe. They seek freedom because they are persecuted elsewhere.  

The Canadian government should fulfill its legal obligations to uphold refugees’ right to protection, under international human rights law.  

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