Canada has struck a deal with the US to stop migrants trying to cross illegally into the country – effectively closing the tap on the steady stream at the Roxham Road crossing in Quebec.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and US President Joe Biden have reportedly come to an agreement to plug a loophole in the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) that currently allows migrants to cross illegally into Canada along its 8,900km border with America.
Under the deal, Canada will be obligated to welcome an extra 15,000 refugees from South and Central America who are fleeing persecution and violence over the coming year.
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In the eight years that ended in January 2023, Canada welcomed 230,370 refugees, including 47,890 last year alone, the latest Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) data reveals.
In the past eight years, Canada’s annual level of immigration from refugees has more than doubled, jumping 145.6 per cent from 19,495 in 2015.
On social media, Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre was quick to take credit for the plugging of the Roxham Road route into Canada by illegal migrants.
“Trudeau has backed down again and agreed to close Roxham Road, roughly 30 days after I told him to,” tweeted Poilievre. “But he never should have opened it in the first place.
“We never had mass illegal border crossings before him and I won’t let it happen again.”
But agreement between Canada and the United States seems to greatly predate any demands by Poilievre or pressure from the Conservatives.
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The deal comes on the heels of talks between Trudeau and the American president at the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles in June last year. At that time, Canada agreed to accept 4,000 more migrants annually by 2028.
Under the reported agreement reportedly struck between the two leaders, any migrants trying to cross illegally into Canada would be returned to the United States. Once there, they could make a legal claim for asylum in Canada.
That’s already the spirit of the STCA inked in 2004 but that provision currently only applies to official border crossings. And that leaves migrants who cross at unofficial border crossings, such as Roxham Road, free to stay in Canada while awaiting hearings or decisions on their cases.
Last year, a reported 39,000 migrants crossed into Canada illegally at Roxham Road.
The move to block migrants’ access to Canada at Roxham Road, though, is being decried by at least one human rights organization.
Amnesty International lawyer Julia Sande has called the move to expand the provisions of the STCA unconscionable.
“It’ll just push people to more remote areas, more dangerous crossings,” Sande has reportedly said.