US President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau struck a deal aimed at stopping asylum-seekers from traversing the shared US-Canada land border via unofficial crossings, an official US document showed yesterday.
The two leaders met yesterday morning in Ottawa and were expected to discuss migration, how to address the worsening security and humanitarian situation in Haiti, the war in Ukraine, trade and fighting climate change, officials said.
The migration deal, according to a final rule set to be published in the US Federal Register, will allow Canada to turn back immigrants at Roxham Road, an unofficial crossing point from New York State for a growing number of migrants.
Border crossings between the two countries are governed by the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA), which allows US and Canadian officials to turn back asylum-seekers in both directions at formal points of entry, but does not apply to unofficial crossings like Quebec’s Roxham Road.
The new deal extends the STCA to the entire border, the longest undefended frontier in the world, for people who claim asylum within 14 days of crossing, according to the notice.
It will go into effect at midnight, according to officials from both Canada and the US.
The issue had been a growing political headache for Trudeau, whose parliamentary seat is in Quebec.
Sceptics point to the difficulty and cost in monitoring such a long border, and the additional harm it may cause to migrants.
“It’s unworkable. How is a border this length monitored? People will cross undetected. People will cross in a more dangerous way,” said refugee lawyer Maureen Silcoff. “It’s a losing proposition to seal the border.”
As part of the agreement, Canada will take in an additional 15,000 migrants over the next year on a humanitarian basis from the Western Hemisphere, a US official said on Thursday.
“There are more people on the move in the Western Hemisphere (since) World War II, it’s really staggering, and it’s historic,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby told MSNBC yesterday.
Roxham Road, a dirt path that has become a route of choice for asylum-seekers, made international headlines in 2017 soon after then-US president Donald Trump started cracking down on migrants, resulting in a rise in the inflow of asylum-seekers into Canada.
Canada has been pushing the US to extend the deal for a while.
In recent months, there has been a sharp increase in asylum-seekers entering Canada through unofficial border crossings.