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Part III Regional Regimes, Ch.16 Regional Refugee Regimes: North America

Deborah Anker

From: The Oxford Handbook of International Refugee Law

Edited By: Cathryn Costello, Michelle Foster, Jane McAdam

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 25 May 2024


This chapter analyses refugee protection in the North American region, which includes Canada, the United States, and Mexico. The dynamics of the region, in particular the hegemonic role of the US, have often led to restrictive policies, reflecting the US’s objective of keeping asylum seekers away from its borders. Such policies can be traced back to the US’s support of violent regimes in the Northern Triangle of Central America during the 1980s and 1990s. US foreign policy contributed to the conflict and instability that generated a significant portion of the very refugees that it has since sought to keep away. But the dynamics in the region are complex, with Canada and Mexico not always aligning their policies to US interests. This chapter discusses the various international and regional refugee and human rights regimes to which Canada, the US, and Mexico are parties, and outlines the origin and evolution of specific refugee policies and practices in each of these three States. The chapter concludes by reflecting on the role of legal advocates, activists, and non-governmental organizations in holding governments accountable and ensuring that international and constitutional refugee protections are realized.

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