The Canadian government on Friday said it is appealing a Federal Court ruling that struck down on human rights grounds a pact that compels asylum seekers trying to enter Canada via the American border to first seek sanctuary in the United States.
In July, the Ottawa-based court decided that the 2004 “Safe Third Country Agreement” reached between the United States and Canada violated the human rights of those trying to enter Canada because they could end up being detained by U.S. authorities.
The case will now be heard by the Federal Court of Appeal and could eventually end up at the Supreme Court.
Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said in a statement that the federal Liberal government has filed an appeal “as it has assessed that there are factual and legal errors in some of the Federal Court’s key findings,” though he did not give further details.
Experts have said that suspending the agreement would have important implications for the Canada-U.S. relationship. Under the pact, which remains in force despite the ruling, asylum seekers who arrive at a formal Canada-U.S. border crossing going in either direction are turned back and told to apply for asylum in the first country in which they arrived.
Lawyers for refugees who were turned away at the Canadian border have said the United States does not qualify as a “safe” country under President Donald Trump, who has taken a hard line toward legal and illegal immigration and asylum seekers.