The United States is not presently a safe country to seek refugee protection. I see the evidence of this in the legal work I have undertaken to represent asylum-seekers from Central America.I am an American immigration lawyer and a former law professor in Canada. Over the course of the last year, I have lead an initiative in my firm to assist asylum-seekers held in detention centres throughout Texas, providing pro bono representation to Central Americans seeking refuge in the United States. Our principal objective has been to ensure adherence to process requirements and secure the release and reunification of families. However, over the past several months, I have come to see my role as a bulwark against my government’s systematic assault on asylum seekers.
The United States is a party to the UN Refugee Convention, and our 1980 refugee statute aligns domestic law with America’s international obligations. In 2002, the United entered into the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement. Among the requirements for the U.S.’s on-going designation as a safe third country is that its “refugee status determination system offers a high degree of protection to refugee claimants” and that it “meets a high standard with respect to the protection of human rights.”
To be clear: the satisfaction of minimum standards is insufficient. The language of the agreement demands fulfilment of high humanitarian and institutional standards.adly, Clint is not an aberration and neither is Tornillo, another desert facility, equally remote and surrounded by razor wire. I spent several days there interviewing children who had languished in detention for many months. These were desperate kids awaiting release to family sponsors in the United States. Consistently, they asked the same questions: “Why is it taking so long? When will I see my mother? My Uncle? My sister?”