...For decades, Somalis have been flooding out of their country, a place so plagued by violence the Canadian government’s official tourism advice is simply “avoid all travel.” When seeking exile, many in the diaspora have favored Canada over the United States for reasons that range from family ties — Toronto is home to a Somali community even larger than Minnesota’s — to the fact that Canada’s immigration bureaucracy is seen as more forgiving (although both countries are generally hesitant to deport anyone back to the war-torn nation).
Yet a Somali wanting to enter Canada can’t simply jump on a direct flight from Mogadishu. For many, the journey involves a long slog through multiple other countries before arriving in the United States and hopping the Canadian border in what has been described as a modern “underground railroad” of human smuggling.
Some in Canada have taken to blaming this state of affairs on the Safe Third Country Agreement negotiated by Canada and the United States in the early 2000s in an attempt to prevent “asylum shopping” — the practice of refugees traipsing around the First World for the best possible deal. Since 2004, anyone who attempts to leave the United States at an official Canadian border crossing for the purpose of making a refugee claim is told to work within the U.S. system.
This obviously offers small comfort to refugees lacking faith in that system. Yet while Canadians may sympathize in the context of a capricious president, appeals to Canadian superiority can also offer convenient cover for migrants unwanted by the United States for perfectly justified reasons — including terrorist ties and serious criminal records...