US, Canada sign deal to reject asylum seekers
The United States of America and Canada have reached an agreement to reject asylum seekers at unofficial border crossings.
US President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will announce the pact on Friday during Biden’s visit to Ottawa.
The agreement is anticipated to allow officials on both countries of the border to reject such asylum seekers heading in either direction, as the US side has also seen an upsurge in migrant crossings there from Canada.
According to CNN, the development is part of efforts to curtail an influx of migrants at Roxham Road, an unofficial crossing between New York state and the province of Quebec.
As a part of the pact, Canada will create a new refugee programme for 15,000 migrants fleeing persecution and violence in South and Central America, unnamed US officials told CBS News, the BBC’s US partner.
CNN further reports that Biden is in Ottawa, Canada, for 24 hours to talk about a series of economic, trade, and immigration issues with Trudeau.
The migration accord is scheduled to be announced before he returns to the US.
The deal is a modification to the two sides’ 2004 Safe Third Country Agreement, which requires migrants to make an asylum claim in the first “safe” country they reach, whether it is the US or Canada.
The new arrangement would close a loophole in the Safe Third Country Agreement that prevented Canada from turning away those crossing the border at unofficial crossing points.
The loophole had led migrants to enter Canada from places like Roxham Road.
New York City authorities last month said they were providing free bus tickets for migrants to travel up towards the US border with Canada.
The number of migrants who have crossed the northern border at Roxham Road surged last year.
Negotiations on the new US-Canada border deal had been stalled for months, according to reports. US officials reportedly did not want to rework the agreement, as the country was bogged down with its own migrant crisis at the US-Mexico border.
Biden’s administration has also proposed to crack down on asylum seekers at the US southern border with Mexico by making it harder for migrants to claim asylum once Covid border controls lift in May. The proposal has met backlash from human rights groups.
The new US-Canada agreement could take effect quickly as it does not require the approval of the US Congress.
Trudeau has argued the only way to halt irregular border crossings at Roxham Road is by renegotiating the Safe Third Country Agreement.