Date of Completion


Thesis Type

College of Arts and Science Honors


Global and Regional Studies

First Advisor

Pablo S. Bose, Ph.D.


asylum, border crossing, Temporary Protected Status, Safe Third Country Agreement, migration, Trump administration


This thesis explores the acute surge in the irregular border crossings of asylum seekers across the International Boundary into Canada between late 2016 to early 2018. The goal of this project is to compile an account of the legal terms and geopolitical conditions that act to generate and shape this migration. The trajectory of this research necessitated study of the evolving nature of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in the United States as well as the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) and its legal controversy. I explore how both respectively act to produce and structure these trends in irregular border crossing and asylum seeking. While the annulment of TPS is situated within a broader landscape of anti-immigrant and anti-refugee policy in the U.S. under the Trump administration, I place a particular focus on TPS because of the way in which its capacity for protection has been diminished by 75 percent[1] over the course of this research.

This project considers how the problematizing of asylum seekers has eroded the refugee determination regime in North America as situated within unprecedented levels of forced displacement globally. The accumulating deficiencies of the U.S. asylum system, in particular, lead both the U.S. and Canada to fail to meet their obligations to international standards of protection under the ongoing application of the STCA. This is a distinct concern in consideration of the way in which the annulment of TPS under the Trump administration has swelled the ranks of vulnerable populations in need of protection within the U.S. While the deteriorating conditions of asylum and humanitarian protection simultaneously produce and criminalize vulnerable populations in the U.S., Canada seeks to deflect and deter access to their own asylum system. I explore how the intersection between the annulment of TPS and the antecedent conditions of the STCA act to generate the legal and geopolitical environment that produces and structures this particular contemporary migration event.

[1] Immediately following the submission of this thesis to the Defense Committee on April 18, 2018, the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security announced the termination of two additional TPS programs (DHS [Press Release], 2018a; DHS [Press Release], 2018b). Coupled with the terminations discussed in this paper, this collectively represents annulment of 98 percent of the program’s capacity for protection under the Trump administration. This statistic is current as of May 11, 2018.