The STCA is an agreement between Canada and the United States which requires refugee claimants to request refugee protection in the first safe country they arrive in (unless they qualify for an exception). The agreement is predicated on the idea that both Canada and the United States are safe countries for refugee claimants, therefore whichever of the two countries a person first arrives in is the country where they must request protection.
Under the Safe Third Country Agreement, many individuals and families who first arrive in the U.S. and then travel to Canadian Ports of Entry to claim refugee protections are denied their claim in Canada and returned to the U.S.
The landmark ruling by the Federal Court determined that the United States is no longer a “safe” country, thereby deeming the STCA to be unconstitutional. The STCA will remain in effect for at least six more months, and the decision by the Court may yet be appealed by the Government of Canada.
The decision came from Justice Ann McDonald who determined that the threat of imprisonment many refugee claimants face in the United States are “inconsistent with the spirit and objective of the STCA.”