The “Safe Third Country” agreement with Canada goes into effect today. The point behind such agreements is to require illegal aliens seeking political asylum to request it in the first country they can, rather than letting them shop around for the best deal. After all, if a person is truly drowning, he’s not going to be picky about which lifeboat he lands in. Such agreements are common in Europe, and a decade ago helped slow what was a flood of asylum seekers.
Initially, this will be a better deal for Canada, since more asylum seekers go north than south across the border (Canada’s an easier mark for illegals seeking asylum, but there are more international flights into the U.S.). But the agreement is a good start — we now need such agreements with all the countries of western Europe where trans-Atlantic flights leave from, so we won’t even have to process asylum claims from people transiting those countries; we’ll be able to simply turn them around, informing them that they should have applied for asylum in Europe. This would make it harder for terrorists to get here and promote better immigration control in general.
Unfortunately, the administration indicated at a 2002 congressional hearing that it had no plans to expand the safe-third-country concept to other nations.