Under the agreement, refugee claimants must apply for refugee protection in the first safe country they arrive in, unless they are entitled to a waiver from the agreement. The Trump administration is methodically reducing the U.S. asylum system to reduce immigration to the United States. One of the most devastating changes introduced by the government is the negotiation of agreements with Central American countries that require asylum seekers transiting through a country to seek refuge there first. These agreements are usually signed by two countries. Migrants must apply for asylum in the first of the two countries they pass, otherwise they could be sent back to the other country. Refugee lawyers who had been turned back at the Canadian border questioned the pact and said the United States was not considered « safe » under President Donald Trump. In practical terms, the legislation requires that the revision of a particular country be based on the following four factors: Trump has seen an increasing number of border attachments, generally seen as substitutes for the scale of unauthorized immigration, as a crisis worth declaring a national emergency in February. He described the agreement on the security of third-country nationals as one of the many measures he is pursuing to reduce the numbers. « Of course, the goal of such an approach is to keep asylum seekers away, » Musalo said. « The agreement on the security of third-country nationals is one way to do this. But this regulation is very effective as long as it is prepared to do so. The agreements would effectively prevent migrants from sheltering at the southern border of the United States – and would continue to endanger the lives of thousands of people fleeing violence and poverty in the Rule Triangle region (El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala) and other countries.
Canada has tried to stem the flow of asylum seekers who have flocked to the country since 2016, after Trump promised to take tough measures against illegal immigration. Conventions on safe third-country nationals are not explicitly mentioned in the 1951 Refugee Convention or the 1967 Protocol on the Status of Refugees. Rather, their legitimacy derives from Article 31 of the 1951 Convention, which states that a refugee should not be punished for illegal entry into a country if he arrives directly from a country where he is threatened. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has itself warned against over-interpreting safe third country agreements, although it acknowledges that they may be acceptable in certain circumstances.  Such ambiguities have prompted some Canadian legal experts to question the legality of the Canada-U.S. safe third country agreement.  But the countries with which Trump has sought to negotiate or negotiate agreements on safe third countries have a long history of instability and violence, and in some cases, asylum seekers are particularly vulnerable.