US and Canada reach agreement in diverting asylum seekers

Published: Mar. 24, 2023 at 12:33 AM EDT
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OTTAWA (WCAX) - Met with a surge of illegal northern border crossings, U.S. and Canadian officials Friday reached a deal allowing both countries to turn away asylum-seekers. Roxham Road, the unofficial border crossing for the bulk of Canadian-bound asylum seekers, will be shut down after Friday night.

President Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met in Ottawa Friday where they announced the new policy. The deal is an expansion of what’s known as the Safe Third Country Agreement, which only applied to official border crossings between the U.S. and Canada. Now, it will include all unofficial border crossings such as Roxham Road. The popular unofficial crossing point in Champlain, New York, has become a magnet for people from all over the world seeking asylum. The site received nearly 40,000 asylum seekers in 2022 and represented over 99% of all irregular arrival in the country, according to a spokesperson for the premier of Quebec. It’s the only border crossing of its kind in all of Canada.

“We will now apply the Safe Third Country Agreement to asylum seekers who cross between official points of entry. After midnight tonight, police and border officers will enforce the agreement and return irregular border crossers to the closest point of entry between the United States,” said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Friday.

Trudeau said they are opening new legal pathways for up to 15,000 migrants from the western hemisphere to come to Canada. That’s a significant departure from the tens of thousands of migrants who were previously walking into Quebec via Roxham Road.

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