US President Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Friday announced a pact that would allow both countries to have the ability to deny entry to asylum seekers at unauthorized crossing locations along their shared border. At a joint press conference in Ottawa, Trudeau announced that beginning early Saturday morning, those who enter Canada illegally will be sent back to the US without delay.
The language of a rule that will be published in the US Federal Register states that the new agreement will also allow the US to send asylum seekers who cross the northern border at unauthorised crossing sites back to Canada. Despite the protestations of immigrant groups and some democrats, the deal marks the latest action taken by the Biden administration to deter migrants from crossing the border illegally in order to apply for asylum.
US Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas stated, “Today’s coordinated actions with the Government of Canada will protect the integrity of the asylum process, discourage dangerous crossings between ports of entry, and encourage lawful pathways for migration.”
The Safe Third Country Agreement, which empowers the US and Canada to turn back migrants who enter through authorized ports of entry, has been in effect for many years. But traffic at unauthorized crossings in Canada has dramatically increased.
More than 39,000 asylum seekers entered Quebec illegally last year; many of them used the Roxham route, a little route in northern New York that comes to an end at the border between the US and Canada. Officials in Canada have requested stricter regulations as a result of this.
Many of those immigrants first entered the country at the southern border, where they were transported by bus to New York City. However, thousands of people have now found themselves in a precarious situation, unable to legally work or send money to their family members in Venezuela and other Latin American nations and beyond.
“We couldn’t just shut down Roxham Road. People would’ve looked for other places to cross. That’s why we chose to modernize the Safe Third Country Agreement,” Trudeau said during the joint press conference. According to the US Department of Homeland Security, Canada has also promised to offer “access to legal pathways” for an additional 15,000 migrants from Latin America and the Caribbean each year as part of the agreement.
Immigrant rights activists, however, blasted the agreement for restricting the movement of asylum seekers.”It’s an unfortunate development for asylum seekers seeking protections and basic human dignity,” stated Elora Mukherjee, the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic director at Columbia Law School.
“Asylum seekers flee violent conditions to build better futures for themselves and their families—they undergo extreme journeys across thousands of miles in search of safety and relief,” the New York Immigration Coalition’s executive director, Murad Awawdeh, said in a statement.”To now restrict the movement of asylum seekers is to recklessly endanger their lives.”