Hussen floats ideas to modernize safe third country agreement with U.S.

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OTTAWA — Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen says he’s approached American government with ideas for modernizing a 14-year-old agreement on refugee claimants who attempt to cross the border between Canada and the United States.

One idea he is floating is to use biometrics to allow border officials to be able to better track the movements of individuals at official ports of entry to determine if they are eligible for making a refugee claim in Canada.

Under the safe third country agreement, an asylum seeker who tries to enter Canada from the U.S. at an official border crossing is sent back to the U.S. to make a refugee claim; a would-be refugee who tries to enter the U.S. from Canada is similarly turned back to make a claim in this country.

The 14-year-old deal is based on border officials being able to visually confirm that asylum seekers arrived at Canadian ports of entry from the U.S.

Hussen says new technologies like biometrics could give greater enforcement powers to border security officers and help modernize the agreement.

But Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel says the change would do nothing to stop the flow of irregular migrants coming to Canada through unofficial entry points since the safe third country agreement does not apply at non-official border crossings.

The Canadian Press