Canada to turn back asylum seekers from midnight, after deal with US

Toronto, Canada, Mar 24 (EFE).- Canada will from midnight Friday begin turning back migrants and asylum seekers who enter the country via unofficial crossings along the United States border.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement during a joint press conference with US President Joe Biden after the two sides reached a new immigration agreement.

“After midnight tonight, police and border officers will enforce the agreement, and return irregular border crossers to the closest port of entry with the United States,” he said.

The pact seeks to address the concerns that Canada has expressed about the growing number of asylum seekers, many from Latin America, who have entered its territory in recent months.

Under the Safe Third Country Agreement of 2004, asylum seekers must make their claims in the first safe country they reach.

It also stipulates that both Canada and the US can turn away migrants from official border crossing points, but does not include unofficial points.

The expanded agreement will now cover the entire border, including unofficial crossings.

Thousands of migrants have entered Canada through the Roxham Road unofficial crossing between the Canadian province of Quebec and the US state of New York.

In 2022 alone, 39,540 asylum seekers entered Canada by land and 39,171 went to Quebec, according to government data.

Many entered through Roxham Road, provoking the anger of the Quebec government, and the opposition Conservative Party of Canada, who asked Trudeau to close the crossing.

Amnesty International condemned the move by the two leaders.

“People fleeing their home countries, and then risking their lives by crossing irregularly into Canada, would not take such drastic steps if the United States’ immigration and refugee-protection system could be counted on to respect migrants’ rights,” Ketty Nivyabandi, secretary general of Amnesty International Canadian Section (English-Speaking) said.

“Moreover, expanding the Safe Third Country Agreement will not end irregular crossings. Rather, it will push migrants to attempt more dangerous crossings into remote areas of Canada and, in some circumstances, force them to rely on smugglers to make the precarious journey.

“Instead of punishing people escaping violence and persecution in their home countries, Canada should withdraw from the Safe Third Country Agreement. This would encourage safe, orderly crossings at the Canada-US border and help protect that people’s right to make a refugee claim.”

Also as part of the agreement, Canada has promised to take in 15,000 migrants from the Americas over the next year. EFE


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