Once-popular rural Quebec road for asylum seekers quiets down after U.S.-Canada deal

As expected:

About 12 hours after the closure of a rural southern Quebec road used by thousands of asylum seekers to enter Canada from the United States, Evelyne Bouchard witnessed RCMP agents escort a family of four people off her property.

Bouchard, whose farm is located about two kilometres from the forested pathway known as Roxham Road, says she is used to seeing police around her home; at times, she has found clothing and unknown footprints in the snow on her Hemmingford, Que., property.

In a recent interview, she said it was upsetting to see people being taken away so soon after the Canada-United States immigration deal closed Roxham Road to most would-be refugees.

“It’s that contrast,” she said. “This is like my happy place — my home. I love this place, and to think that someone in that same kind of physical space is feeling afraid and vulnerable and is possibly in danger is just completely heartbreaking.”

Officials say the massive wave of would-be refugees crossing into Canada has slowed significantly since the end of March, when the government negotiated a deal with the United States to turn away asylum seekers at unofficial border crossings like Roxham Road, closing a long-standing loophole in the Safe Third Country Agreement.

That agreement assumes that Canada and the U.S. are “safe” countries for would-be refugees. It also forces asylum seekers to apply for refugee status in the first country they enter — Canada or the U.S. — and prohibits them from crossing the border to file a claim.

Estelle Muzzi, mayor of border community St-Bernard-de-Lacolle, said residents who live near Roxham Road have reported a decrease in foot traffic in the area since the treaty was expanded.

“The message is getting through because I’m told that it’s gone down dramatically — there’s a big drop in traffic,” Muzzi said in a recent interview.

“I think that for the citizens of St-Bernard-de-Lacolle who were very affected by the situation, those who live right next to the border, for them, the most important thing was to find some peace and quiet,” Muzzi said.

Frances Ravensbergen, an activist with Bridges Not Borders, a refugee advocacy group in Hemmingford, said local volunteers have also reported a decline in the number of people arriving to cross through Roxham Road.

“The few people that we have seen crossing either don’t seem to be completely aware of the new regulations … and not realizing that if you’re handed back to the Americans, you may never apply for asylum again in Canada,” Ravensbergen said in an interview.

But despite the drop in people arriving at Roxham Road, Ravensbergen said she thinks scenes like the RCMP arrest on Bouchard’s property will be replicated across the country. Now that asylum seekers are blocked from using that road, they will likely try to enter Canada through other spots along the 9,000-kilometre border that separates the two countries, she said.

Border officials are also reporting a drop in the number of migrants trying to cross the border between official ports of entry. The Canada Border Services Agency said that from March 25 to April 2, it recorded 191 cases of people crossing irregularly. Out of that total, 144 claimants were returned to the U.S. in accordance with the expanded agreement; 54 were deemed eligible to make an asylum claim in Canada.

Before the new treaty went into effect, the government reported that since December of 2022, about 4,500 people were crossing through Roxham Road every month.

Now, the CBSA said that when RCMP agents or local police intercept would-be refugees trying to cross at irregular checkpoints, they take them to a designated — and official — port of entry. There, border officials determine whether or not their claim is eligible.

An asylum seeker is permitted to cross an irregular checkpoint under four circumstances: they have family members living legally in Canada; they are an accompanied minor; they have legal documents such as a Canadian visa or valid work permit; or their application for refugee status is considered in the “public interest.”

“If an individual does not meet an (agreement) exception or is otherwise determined inadmissible, they will be removed to the U.S. If the refugee claim is eligible, the person’s file will be referred to the Immigration and Refugee Board for consideration, and the person will be authorized to enter Canada to pursue their claim for protection,” Maria Ladouceur, a spokesperson for the agency, said by email.

Viviane Albuquerque, a Canadian and U.S. immigration lawyer based in Montreal, explained that once an asylum seeker has crossed Roxham Road to Canada and is deemed ineligible to claim asylum, it becomes almost impossible for the individual to seek asylum in Canada ever again.

“Once there is a determination based on your status — a refused refugee claim — it is very difficult to apply for refugee status again unless (the asylum seeker) tries to appeal the decision in court,” Albuquerque said in an interview.

Bouchard said she was hoping for a long time that Canada and the U.S. would renegotiate the Safe Third Country Agreement — to make it easier for migrants to file asylum claims in either country.

“It was just such a gut punch that it went in exactly the opposite direction to what we’d hoped, making it more dangerous and more difficult and driving people into the woods, where they’re more likely to be in danger.”

Source: Once-popular rural Quebec road for asylum seekers quiets down after U.S.-Canada deal

The safe-third-country amendment paves a balanced road to refugee protection, The deaths in the St. Lawrence River show that border ‘control’ is a fallacy

Two contrasting perspectives, Michael Barutciski of York University, praising the agreement as being balanced, Christina arguing that it will result in significant hardship, human smuggling and deaths.

I find Barutciski more realistic and his arguments more convincing.

Starting with Barutciski:

After years of controversy, the Trudeau government is putting an end to the unofficial crossings at Roxham Road, which were undermining public confidence in border integrity. While all migrants must be treated with dignity, we should also recognize that effective protection is about balancing the rights of asylum seekers with legitimate state concerns. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appears aware, at last, that asylum is a two-way street and that the situation was leading to a backlash. He announced last week with U.S. President Joe Biden that the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) will extend across the entire Canada-U.S. border. This can lead to a balanced overall policy if there is a genuine commitment to a comprehensive regional approach.

Although commentators insisted the U.S. would never agree to remove the loophole in the STCA that allowed the Roxham Road situation, the timing was right for a renegotiation. The Biden administration is leading a collaborative strategy to establish orderly migration in the Americas, and the recent scandalous revelations that U.S. officials were encouraging irregular migrants to cross at Roxham Road provided Ottawa with the additional impetus to take a broader, hemispheric approach to migration.

Even before these revelations, the application of the STCA was undermining public trust. It left the impression that the government was unable to control the border; illegal entry at Roxham Road became so easy that it was almost an invitation for undocumented migrants to try their chances at obtaining asylum in Canada. It also gave the appearance of an incoherent system favouring irregular migrants over those who present themselves at official crossings. The latter were generally turned back to the U.S. in accordance with the STCA, which stipulates that they should seek protection in the first “safe” country they enter. No protection principle could justify such a double standard, one that treated asylum seekers differently based on which part of the land border they used to enter.

The additional protocol announced recently follows the most rational option: By extending the STCA to the entire border, it guarantees that collaboration between the U.S. and Canada is not limited to official crossings. Neither country is obliged to return migrants, although they now have the formal structures to proceed this way if they so choose. The dissuasion element will make irregular migration more complicated, so the logic is that fewer migrants will choose this path. Refugee advocates and their academic allies have countered by claiming that migrants will now start to cross at more remote places, implying border control is futile. This is essentially an argument for open borders.

By amending the STCA, Ottawa has backtracked from its previous position that the 1951 Refugee Convention automatically grants every asylum seeker at Roxham Road the right to a hearing. Indeed, the word “asylum” was deliberately omitted from the convention’s 46 articles, and following a failed endeavour to adopt an asylum treaty in 1977, no further attempts have been made to codify a legally binding right to seek asylum. Just as international treaty law does not stipulate such a right, the Supreme Court’s landmark Singhdecision never determined that every asylum seeker automatically has the right to a hearing once they set foot in Canada.

Yet the government’s previous position played well to activists and academics who continue to prefer the status quo, which has an understandable appeal if the issue is simply about handling irregular migration at the border in a somewhat predictable and semi-orderly manner. However, this view remains tone-deaf to the symbolic impact of the RCMP’s credibility-sapping participation in border theatre: Until recently, border agents tried to dissuade migrants from entering illegally by yelling out that they will be arrested, even though everyone knew they would be immediately released to pursue their asylum claims in Canada.

Last month’s diplomatic development should stop this situation from continuing. It appears to be a simple version of a quid pro quo arrangement previously suggested to advance negotiations: Washington has agreed to amend the STCA, while Ottawa has committed to resettling at least 15,000 asylum seekers from Latin America. But as migration flows stabilize, the Canadian contribution should expand well beyond 15,000 resettled refugees. By tending to humanitarian needs, Canada’s labour shortages could also be addressed by new legal pathways for migrants, who have much to contribute to the economy.

Instead of the current undignified status quo that forces migrants to enter illegally at Roxham Road, ambitious collaboration could bring us closer to a humane model for orderly migration not just between Canada and the U.S., but around the world. The crucial question is whether there will be a long-term commitment.

Michael Barutciski is co-ordinator of Canadian Studies at York University’s Glendon College. He was previously director of the diplomacy program at the University of Canterbury Law School and fellow in law at Oxford University’s Refugee Studies Centre.

Source: The safe-third-country amendment paves a balanced road to refugee protection

Following with Clark-Kazak:

The recent deaths of eight people at the Canada-U.S. border are the tragic but predictable consequences of policies that fail to account for the realities of global migration.

Last week, police reported that eight bodies – including an infant and two-year-old child – were found in the St. Lawrence River near the Kanien’kehá:ka community of Akwesasne. Six adults holding Indian and Romanian citizenship, along with two Canadian children of the Romanian couple, were reportedlytrying to cross irregularly into the United States. Casey Oakes, an Akwesasne resident, is still missing.

What may surprise Canadians is that the victims appeared to be heading from Canada into the United States. But the issue of irregular migration has long cut both ways – and recently changes by both parties only make matters worse.

This tragedy occurred less than a week after U.S. President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced changes to the Safe Third Country Agreement. While most of the media and political attention has focused primarily on the resulting closure of the irregular border crossing at Roxham Road in Quebec, the deal also requires, with limited exceptions, anyone claiming asylum after arriving by land to make their refugee claim in the first country they reach, either the U.S. or Canada.

The Canadian government’s primary objective appears to be to limit the overall number of refugee claims in Canada. The deal allows Canada to turn back refugee claimants at official land ports of entry, and to deport people who cross irregularly from the U.S. and subsequently make an asylum claim.

While they are small in number compared with the 2.4 million encounters by U.S. Customs and Border Protection on the country’s southern border with Mexico in 2022, Mr. Biden faced domestic political pressure to address the increasing numbers of people crossing irregularly into the U.S. from Canada. These irregular crossings, typically motivated by family and community networks and employment opportunities in the U.S., required the Americans and Canadians to publicly co-operate on the issue.

Many migrant fatalities over the past year have involved people crossing north to south. In January, 2022, the Patel family from India died while attempting to enter from Manitoba. Fritznel Richard, a Haitian man, died trying to reach his family in the U.S. from Quebec in December, 2022. In February, 2023, Jose Leos Cervantes, from Mexico, died shortly after crossing into New York State in sub-zero temperatures. These deaths occurred because there was no option like Roxham Road to allow for relatively safe, irregular passage from Canada to the U.S.

However, the resulting STCA amendment actually reduces overall immigrationpathways, thereby increasing the chances of irregular crossings and death.

Research shows that the securitization and militarization of borders has only driven up human smuggling and risky journeys on the land and sea borders of the European Union and at the U.S.-Mexico border, which the International Organization for Migration deemed “the deadliest land crossing in the world.”

While rich countries in Europe and North America benefit from globalization and the free movement of capital, many also attempt to close their borders – administratively and physically – to people seeking safety, security and a better life. These are not evidence-based policies. They are political measures to try to reassure domestic constituencies that they are “in control.”

But controlling borders – especially one as long and geographically complex as the Canada-U.S. border – is an impossible proposition. For as long as desperation remains the driver, irregular border crossings will continue, in both directions, no matter the risk.

Last month, in keeping with its decades-long patterns, Washington budgeted US$25-billion for border control, immigration detention and deportation. But despite such spending, the U.S. is estimated to have the largest undocumented population in the world, at more than 10 million. These people are often then driven into precarious employment that can lead to exploitation.

These resources would be better invested in clearing massive immigration backlogs – another problem Canada shares with the U.S. – and in creating more legal pathways to residency and citizenship. Funding could also be redirected to supporting communities along the border that are negatively affected by increased securitization and surveillance, but are otherwise neglected and marginalized. The Kanien’kehá:ka community of Akwesasne, for instance, has to contend with colonially imposed complications associated with its territory straddling Ontario, Quebec and New York State, which makes access to services (including health care) a challenge.

By following the U.S.’s lead on migration and border policies, Canada is making a costly mistake – in terms of how it is failing to invest in solutions that address the root causes of irregular migration, but also in terms of the impact their short-sighted policy making will have on human lives.

Christina Clark-Kazak is an associate professor at the University of Ottawa.

Source: The safe-third-country amendment paves a balanced road to refugee protection, The deaths in the St. Lawrence River show that border ‘control’ is a fallacy

Trudeau says orderly immigration system is needed, after deaths of eight migrants

Confidence might also be increased if the government could demonstrate a more prudent and realistic approach to immigration levels. Arguably, the rapid increase in temporary workers and students, significantly more than Permanent Residents, uncapped and not in the annual levels plan, is by itself another manifestation of less than orderly immigration:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is reiterating the importance of an orderly immigration system as police investigate the deaths of eight migrants, including two toddlers, in the Mohawk territory of Akwesasne last week.

Last month, Canada negotiated a deal with the United States to turn away asylum seekers at unofficial border crossings like Roxham Road, closing a long-standing loophole in the Safe Third Country Agreement.

The deal means people will be turned away from the border no matter where they try to cross. The aim is for people to make their asylum claim in the first country they land in, whether it be Canada or the United States.

Migrant advocates warned the new rules would push people to take even greater risks in their efforts to cross the border, like using smugglers and moving to even more remote crossings.

A week later, the bodies of eight people were pulled from the St. Lawrence River after they tried to make it into the U.S. from Canada by boat.

The prime minister called the deaths a tragedy, but said Canada needs to maintain public confidence in the immigration system.

“When people take risks to cross our borders in an irregular fashion or if they pay criminals to get them across the border, this isn’t a system we can have confidence in,” Trudeau said in French at a press conference in Val-d’Or, Que.

Canada is prepared to welcome more immigrants than ever, he said, “but we’re going to make sure that it’s done in the right ways, appropriately.”

The government’s immigration plan says between 410,000 and 505,000 people will become permanent residents this year, which would be the highest number in recent history.

But since COVID-19 border restrictions lifted in 2021, the number of asylum claims has significantly surpassed pre-pandemic levels. Cities and provinces, particularly Quebec, have said the number of families claiming asylum have put pressure on local services.

Despite the recent clampdown at the border, the federal government set aside $1 billion for temporary shelter and health-care coverage for asylum seekers.

NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan called on the government to suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement Monday, saying it was negotiated in secret and without consultation.

“I do fear that people will die,” said Kwan at a press conference at the irregular border crossing near Emerson, Man.

She was joined by Seidu Mohammed, a bisexual man from Ghana, whose asylum claim was rejected in America. He spent a year in immigration detention before he crossed into Canada through an irregular border crossing.

If he didn’t, he fears he would have been deported to Ghana where sexual acts between consenting people of the same gender is against the law and people who identify as LGBTQ face discrimination and violence.

Mohammed said he was terrified when he heard about the new policy.

“It’s going to put a lot of immigrants and refugees in danger, and they’re going to lose their lives from this,” he said.

Immigration Minister Sean Fraser called the deaths of the migrants in Akwesasne horrific, and said they have caused him to think about changes.

“I don’t have an announcement on a policy change today, but I can reassure you that I’m thinking very deeply about what shifts we ought to be making in Canada,” he said, reflecting specifically on the fact that the two children who died had Canadian passports.

The children were one and two years old.

Fraser said the government is looking at putting money toward some of the root causes that push people to make perilous journeys through irregular border crossings in the first place, but repeated the prime minister’s message about the importance of an orderly system.

“We want to do what we can to promote opportunities for people to come through regular pathways so they know that they’re going to be able to arrive in Canada safely, whether that’s through our refugee programs, whether that’s through our economic programs to be reunited with their families,” Fraser said at a press conference in Calgary.

Source: Trudeau says orderly immigration system is needed, after deaths of eight migrants

Manley: Canada’s empathy for refugees isn’t limitless, so securing our border is key

Sensible and realistic, and useful reminder of the reasons behind the STCA. The right-leaning Liberal in contrast to the op-ed Here’s a better fix for Roxham Road by his left-leaning former Cabinet colleagues Lloyd Axworthy and Allan Rock:

Twenty-one years after I negotiated the Safe Third Country Agreement in 2002 as part of the post-9/11 Smart Border Declaration, I applaud the changes made to that agreement this past week by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Joe Biden.

The 2002 agreement enabled Canada to return to the United States individuals claiming refugee status who entered Canada from that country at designated, regular border crossings.

The new agreement simply extends that policy to individuals attempting to enter Canada through so-called “informal” border crossings like Roxham Road.

Canada sought the agreement in 2002 for reasons that seem all too familiar today. Refugee claimants found their way in huge numbers to legal border crossing areas such as Windsor, Ont., Fort Erie, Ont., and Niagara Falls, Ont.

In those days, the available support systems were overwhelmed by the large number of claimants. The refugee determination process became backlogged, often taking two years or more to reach a decision on the validity of a claim of refugee status. The number of refugee claimants were inflated by efforts of profiteers in the U.S. who collected and delivered these people to the Canadian border, often by bus from Buffalo or other central points.

In more recent years, the situation at Roxham Road developed because of a loophole in the agreement: It became a magnet simply because it, and other areas at which illegal crossings could be attempted, were not specifically included in the original agreement.

Canada’s position was, and remains, that refugee claimants, having somehow made their way to the U.S., should make their claim there. Those who choose to attempt to enter at “informal” crossings are in effect displacing or queue-jumping other claimants.

For context, it is important to remember that, in the aftermath of 9/11, many Americans falsely tried to portray Canada as a safe haven for terrorists intent on attacking the U.S. At the time, both then-senator Hillary Clinton and former House speaker Newt Gingrich, who agreed on very little else, were reported to have falsely claimed that the 9/11 terrorists had entered the U.S. from Canada. Our openness as a society was being turned against us, putting at risk our commercial interests. As Ms. Clinton once said to me: “Security trumps trade.”

Since then, the world’s refugee problem has only worsened: The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) estimates that, in 2022, there were 103 million forcibly displaced persons worldwide. The enormous scale of this human tragedy is difficult to comprehend: If all these people were situated in one country, it would be the 14th most populous in the world. Most of those 103 million are in much greater danger of harm than those who have already found their way into the U.S., some of whom seek to enter Canada.

There is no question that Canada should continue to help house this burden of displaced humanity. But Canada also has a duty to its own citizens to enforce its laws and manage its territorial borders as part of its system of rule of law, both national and international, for the safety and well-being of its citizens.

Canada, in recent years, has taken in more refugees in absolute numbers than some Western countries our size or bigger. Refugees all around the world wait, often for years, in camps from which there is no escape. Canada has historically been a lifeline for many of these individuals. We can more than meet our global responsibility without taking in persons fleeing the United States.

Canadians have proven themselves to be open to immigration, demonstrating a willingness to pitch in to assist refugees, be they from African countries, Ukraine, Syria, Vietnam, or any other of the many venues of war, famine and persecution.

But Canadian goodwill is not bottomless and could be put at risk if some newcomers are perceived to be queue-jumpers, attempting to gain unfair advantage.

Past prime ministers and, no doubt, our current Prime Minister, feel and understand the burden of Canadian responsibility to the world’s victims of hunger, conflict and persecution, while also recognizing that Canadians’ generosity and sense of fair play must not be stretched beyond their limits.

John Manley is the former deputy prime minister and a current senior adviser with Bennett Jones LLP.

Source: Manley: Canada’s empathy for refugees isn’t limitless, so securing our border is key

Axworthy and Rock: Here’s a better fix for Roxham Road

Predictable, and only workable in the context of the excessively high and increasing immigration levels. But not necessarily in the context of an immigration policy that takes into the account of the impact on housing, healthcare and infrastructure:

Ottawa pundits say that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau scored a political win by securing President Joe Biden’s agreement to renegotiate the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA). Henceforth, it will apply across the entire Canada-U.S. border, and asylum seekers can be turned away at any crossing point. Ottawa has thereby responded adroitly to Quebec Premier François Legault’s complaints about the flow of migrants entering Quebec at the infamous Roxham Road border crossing.

But there is something that neither the Prime Minister nor the President mentioned in their announcement: the impact of their decision on the men, women and children fleeing violence and persecution who had hoped to cross the Canadian border after feeling anything but safe in the United States. The vast majority are not in any way a threat to our security. They are ordinary people searching for sanctuary by putting themselves and their families at grave risk on a perilous journey, one they’d hoped would end with a Canadian border crossing.

We are left to imagine the bitter disappointment they will feel when instead of a portal to Canada they are met with a locked gate, a warning sign and no choice but to face the notoriously hostile American border security officials. As we have learned by watching the Mediterranean, some, in their desperation, will look for other points of entry to Canada by taking greater risks and putting their lives in danger. One “loophole” may have been closed, but others will no doubt appear.

“It’s what they deserve,” some will say. “Play by the rules! Don’t jump the queue!” But almost all of them are vulnerable survivors who escaped persecution and oppression simply to assert an ancient right – the right to asylum.

The right to seek asylum is codified in the United Nations’ 1951 Refugee Convention. Before the STCA came into effect in 2002, under international law the convention obligated Canada to allow refugees to enter and remain here until the validity of their claim for asylum could be determined by a tribunal. Under the STCA, Canada effectively subcontracted this obligation to the United States.

There was another matter that neither our Prime Minister nor the President mentioned last week: the constitutional validity of the STCA is to be considered by the Supreme Court of Canada in the coming months. Depending on what the court decides, our government could end up not with a political win, but instead a major loss of credibility. The court could send Parliament back to the drawing board to legislate a new migration policy based on the paramountcy of human rights, instead of expediency.

It is fitting that the issue will hinge on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which has had a major influence on Canadian attitudes toward migration. Polls have consistently shown that Canadians have a strong attachment to an open system of immigration. While Mr. Biden and Mr. Trudeau spoke of shared values, there is one major exception: Canadians differ from Americans in our commitment to pluralism and welcoming newcomers. Why, then, are we doubling down on a policy so inconsistent with that distinctive characteristic?

There is a better way. As Minister of Immigration, Sean Fraser demonstrated Canada’s openness by setting a target to welcome half a million newcomers to Canada in 2025. However, he also announced that the number of refugees admitted would be reduced from 76,000 in 2023, to 73,000 in 2025. It is not clear whether the 73,000-person figure will now include the 15,000 Central American migrants Canada promised it would assist the U.S. in resettling during President Biden’s visit last week. In any case, we should strive to dedicate 20 per cent of our 2025 immigration goal to the resettlement of forcibly displaced people, taking in at least 100,000 in 2025. We can work to build up the capacity of our U.S. diplomatic posts, and our U.S.-Canada border crossing points, to receive, process and settle those with legitimate asylum claims.

Let’s take on the diplomatic task of building a collaborative, hemispheric migration network and devote the necessary resources to make it work. We can draw on our ability to convene, and our talent for negotiation, by inviting a group of like-minded governments, civil society groups, and international organizations to a summit aimed at reviving and strengthening the imperilled right to asylum. Migration is increasing, driven by climate change and conflict. We have to get things right at our border – politically and morally.

A border that assures security while respecting asylum seekers and welcoming migrants? Now that would be a real win for Canada.

Lloyd Axworthy is a former foreign minister and current chair of the World Refugee and Migration Council. Allan Rock is a former attorney-general and minister of justice, and a member of the World Refugee and Migration Council.

Source: Here’s a better fix for Roxham Road

U.S., Canada kept migrant crossing deal a secret to avoid rush at the border

Sensible. And critics such as Brian Lilley (see below) would have rightly been all over the government had it not done so with the corresponding rush and chaos:

Canada and the United States waited a year to announce a new deal to turn asylum seekers away at unofficial border crossings, such as Roxham Road between Quebec and New York, to avoid a rush of migrants before the new rules could be enforced, the two countries said Sunday.

In an interview with The Globe and Mail, U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Cohen said it would not have served either country to disclose a deal until the planning process was complete and updated regulations were in effect. The goal was to have “an orderly transition,” he said.

Mr. Cohen said the governments feared that a premature announcement “would stimulate a large influx of migrants trying to get to Canada before that change went into place.”

“It was not in Canada’s interest to create that artificial surge of people trying to enter the country.”

On Friday, during President Joe Biden’s visit to Canada, he and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that they had renegotiated the Safe Third Country Agreement, with the revised deal taking effect within hours. The changes meant that the two countries could start turning away asylum seekers whether they entered at official or unofficial border points.

Originally, the Safe Third Country Agreement, prevented people arriving via the U.S. from making asylum claims at official Canadian border crossings, but it didn’t cover unofficial ones.

Behind the scenes, the countries had already signed the deal a year earlier, in spring 2022, but the regulations that would put it into effect and allow its enforcement were only completed Wednesday, according to a document published by the U.S. government.

In the months leading up to the announcement, Canada had significantly played down the possibility of reaching an agreement with the United States. Only when Mr. Biden’s arrival in the capital on Thursday was imminent did that message change.

An administration official said changes to existing accords, such as the Safe Third Country Agreement, are subject to complicated and uncertain administrative reviews that can last two to three years after a deal is struck. Given the unknowns around implementation and the risks of people trying to get to the border before a deal was in place, the two governments only wanted to disclose the deal when it could go into effect.

Ottawa shared similar concerns about the risks of pre-emptively announcing the renegotiated deal, a federal government official told The Globe Sunday. Moreover, the individual said that Ottawa’s view was that it wasn’t a done deal until it had gone through the regulatory process. They said that within the past few weeks, the federal government had still been lobbying for an accelerated administrative review from the U.S. and it was only assured last week of its completion.

The Globe is not identifying the U.S. and Canadian officials because they were not permitted to disclose the private deliberations.

Applying the Safe Third Country Agreement uniformly across the border has been a top priority for Mr. Trudeau’s government, which has been under increasing pressure from the federal Conservatives and Quebec Premier François Legault to stem the flow of migrants at Roxham Road.

Last year, almost 40,000 people crossed into Canada at unofficial border points to make an asylum claim. Most of them arrived at Roxham Road. Smaller but growing numbers of migrants have been crossing the border in the other direction, from Canada to the U.S. They have primarily been Mexican nationals, who can enter Canada without visas.

But the much more pressing issue for the U.S. is its southern border, where between 100,000 and 200,000 migrants cross at unofficial border points each month. In a nod to the significant challenges the U.S. faces with migration from Central America, Canada on Friday also announced it would accept 15,000 more migrants from that region through legal channels.

Officials from both governments said Canada’s pledge of 15,000 more spots spurred the implementation of the renegotiated Safe Third Country Agreement.

In a joint statement, the U.S. and Canada on Friday said the changes will deter irregular migration across the border. But advocates say it will only make the situation even more precarious for asylum seekers. That’s because it risks pushing migrants to more dangerous and irregular routes and makes them more vulnerable to exploitation from traffickers.

By noon Sunday, the Canada Border Services Agency said that under the new rules, two people had been returned to the U.S. and four were deemed eligible to make an asylum claim in Canada.

Amid the suite of issues highlighted during Mr. Biden’s official visit, wasCanada’s promised spending to modernize North America’s air defences. Ahead of the trip, the U.S. had said it wanted Canada to spend more and faster on its defence upgrades.

Canada’s lagging defence spending and slow procurement processes have frequently been a point of contention with the United States. On Sunday though, Mr. Cohen said the U.S. is “generally satisfied” with the federal government’s progress.

He noted that Ottawa agreed to accelerate the installation of next-generation over-the-horizon radar in the north; committed to base upgrades in time for the arrival of new F-35 fighter jets; and reiterated its commitment to raise defence spending to 2 per cent of GDP.

Mr. Cohen also noted that Canada is in the midst of a national defence policy review, during which the U.S. is receiving classified briefings on the government’s progress.

“There’s a real satisfaction that Canada is moving in the right direction,” he said.

Source: U.S., Canada kept migrant crossing deal a secret to avoid rush at the border

But Lilley, in the Sun, his ideology blinds him to the practicalities behind the delay:

Between when the Trudeau government signed the agreement to amend the Safe Third Country agreement, and when it came into force, more than 41,000 people crossed illegally into Canada at Roxham Rd.

After we add in the numbers for March, expect the final tally to be over 45,000 or the equivalent of adding the population of Chatham, Ont., via what the government calls “irregular migration.”

While the agreement was only officially announced last Friday when U.S. President Biden was in Ottawa, it was signed almost a year ago. The official document, now released, was signed by Canada on May 29, 2022, while Americans signed it on April 15, 2022.

The agreement said that it would come into effect at a later date, but coming into force at midnight 51 weeks after it was signed seems a bit much.

“Both of our countries believe in safe, fair, and orderly migration; refugee protection; and border security. This is why we will now apply the Safe Third Country Agreement to asylum seekers who cross between official points of entry,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday when announcing the changes.

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“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.”

This is what should have been done six years ago when the problem started, but having started the problem, Trudeau tried using it for political advantage. He was effectively importing an American wedge issue into Canadian politics, illegal immigration.

Crossing at Roxham Rd. is illegal, which is why there were big Government of Canada signs facing the American side of the border stating that fact in clear language. It’s why the RCMP would issue verbal warnings as people approached, telling them it was illegal to cross, and they would be arrested.

Once they were in Canada, though, they could declare asylum and begin a legal process to stay here.

The Safe Third country agreement recognized that Canada and the United States were safe for refugees and required people to apply in the first of the two countries they landed in. The agreement was signed two decades ago to end the problem of refugee shopping by people who were turned down on the application in one country, turning to the other.

There was a loophole, though, in that the agreement only applied at legal points of entry. That loophole was exploited by people who were mostly economic migrants trying to get a shortcut into Canada.

When Donald Trump was president, Trudeau used Roxham Rd. to show that Canada was virtuous and welcoming of immigrants while Trump was not. He tried to bait those opposed to these illegal crossings by implying they were racist, he wanted to use this for his own partisan ends.

With Joe Biden in the White House, he no longer had that edge and post-pandemic, the numbers increased. With more than 39,000 people crossing in 2022, it was a record, and the numbers for January and February were off the charts.

People who crossed into the United States illegally on the southern border — into states like Texas — were being put on a bus to New York City. Once there, officials in New York offered them bus tickets to Roxham Rd.

With record crossings, Quebec declared it was full, and the strain on their social services was too great, so the Trudeau government started bussing people to Ottawa, Toronto and Niagara Falls.

Nothing about what has been happening was fair to anyone.

It’s not fair to Canadian taxpayers, asked to foot the bills for this make-shift system. It’s not fair to the people, mostly economic migrants, to be bussed around from place to place. It’s also not fair for the 2 million people in Canada’s immigration backlog looking to follow the rules.

It’s also not fair to people languishing in actual refugee camps around the world.

This should have been fixed years ago; once the deal was signed, it should have been implemented quickly.

Instead, Trudeau used and abused this file until it no longer served his political agenda.

Source: LILLEY: Deal to close Roxham Rd. was signed a year before taking effect

Le calme règne sur le chemin Roxham

Of note, early stages:

Une dizaine de demandeurs d’asile ont rencontré samedi un obstacle imprévu lorsqu’ils ont constaté que le chemin Roxham n’était plus la porte d’entrée aussi simple qu’ils souhaitaient au Canada

L’accord annoncé vendredi entre Ottawa et Washington qui fera des 8900 kilomètres de leur frontière commune un passage officiel et qui conduira au refoulement des demandeurs d’asile qui la traversent notamment au chemin Roxham, au Québec, est entré en vigueur samedi.

La nouvelle a surpris ces candidats au statut de réfugié descendus d’un autobus en provenance de Plattsburgh. Plusieurs l’ont apprise de représentants des médias qui les attendaient.

« Wow ! », s’est exclamé un Colombien avec un regard incrédule. Il n’a pas donné son identité, mais il a dit en espagnol qu’il voyageait avec sa femme et son jeune fils. Quelques minutes plus tard, il s’est approché de la journaliste de La Presse canadienne pour lui demander si le chemin Roxham était vraiment fermé.

Jusqu’à vendredi, des files de taxis se stationnaient à l’arrêt d’autobus, prêts à transporter des clients vers le lieu de passage. Samedi, il n’en est venu qu’un seul.

Le chauffeur, qui a refusé de dire son nom, a transporté deux familles colombiennes vers la frontière. Il s’est contenté de hausser les épaules lorsqu’on lui a demandé s’il savait que ces passagers pouvaient être arrêtés une fois à destination.

La journée avait débuté bien calmement au passage frontalier du chemin Roxham, au Québec. Seuls quelques journalistes attendaient l’arrivée possible de nouveaux arrivants voulant traverser la frontière canado-américaine afin de demander un statut de réfugié.

Une nouvelle pancarte a été installée pour prévenir les nouveaux arrivants qu’il est dorénavant illégal de franchir la frontière à cet endroit.

« Entrer au Canada ici est illégal. Vous serez arrêté et pourriez être renvoyé aux États-Unis. Les demandeurs d’asile doivent faire leur demande dans le premier pays sûr où ils arrivent », peut-on lire.

Un élu de l’assemblée législative de l’État de New York a exprimé son inquiétude sur les conséquences de la nouvelle entente sur les citoyens américains.

« Ça devient un problème local, car on a un grand flot de gens venant ici, dit Billy Jones. Si on leur nie l’accès [au Canada], où iront-ils ? Que feront-ils ? D’un point de vue humanitaire, on ne veut pas que ces gens restent coincés à la frontière. Ils ne sont pas souvent préparés aux conditions que nous avons ici. »

La clandestinité

La nouvelle entente sur les demandeurs d’asile entre le Canada et les États-Unis ne dissuadera pas les migrants de tenter d’entrer au Canada à l’extérieur des points d’entrée officiels, soutiennent toutefois des groupes de défense de l’immigration au Québec.

Restreindre l’accès à la frontière et empêcher les migrants d’accéder à un chemin sûr vers le pays ne fera qu’encourager certains individus, a déclaré Abdulla Daoud, directeur général du Centre de réfugiés basé à Montréal, vendredi.

« Ce type de prise de décision […] dans le passé a mené à la création de nombreux réseaux de passeurs, a souligné M. Daoud en entrevue à La Presse canadienne. Le Canada n’a jamais vraiment eu à composer avec cela, mais maintenant, je pense que nous allons voir les chiffres augmenter parce que ces individus mal intentionnés ne vont pas disparaître. »

L’accord a été décrit dans des documents américains comme un « ajout » au traité de 2004 connu sous le nom d’Entente sur les tiers pays sûrs. Ce traité empêche les gens au Canada ou aux États-Unis de traverser la frontière et de présenter une demande de statut de réfugié dans l’un ou l’autre pays, mais jusqu’à maintenant, il ne couvrait que les points d’entrée officiels.

Eva Gracia-Turgeon, directrice générale de Foyer du Monde, un organisme qui héberge temporairement des demandeurs d’asile et des migrants à Montréal, a déclaré qu’il est possible que des réfugiés potentiels qui sont déterminés à entrer au Canada finissent par mourir en empruntant des routes dangereuses pour entrer au pays.

« Il est très possible que les gens essaient de traverser en utilisant des endroits plus cachés et se retrouver coincés dans les bois pendant des jours et même y perdre la vie », a déclaré Mme Gracia-Turgeon en entrevue.

« Nous parlons également ici de familles, de femmes enceintes et de jeunes enfants qui vont traverser la frontière. Il y aura donc potentiellement plus de drame à la frontière », se désole Mme Gracia-Turgeon.

Au moins un demandeur d’asile était prêt à franchir illégalement la frontière. Un homme s’identifiant comme Herman est arrivé vendredi à New York en provenance du Congo où il a laissé sa femme et ses quatre enfants. L’individu espère rejoindre des proches vivant actuellement à Ottawa. Parlant en français, il a dit ne pas avoir d’autres choix que d’aller de l’avant avec son plan.

« Elle me manque, a-t-il lancé en parlant de sa famille. Les conditions de vie sont terribles là-bas. »

Source: Le calme règne sur le chemin Roxham

Closing Roxham Road will lead to ‘humanitarian catastrophes,’ immigration experts warn

We will see. Not everyone who crossed at Roxham Road, relatively risk-free, will uudertake the greater risk now that all crossings will now be subject to the STCA. A natural experiment in progress, and the current situation was untenable politically:

Quebec immigration experts say closing Roxham Road to asylum seekers may go against Canada’s international obligations and could result in more deaths at the border, after an already deadly year.

Two men died attempting to cross the Canadian border within two months of each other.

The first, 43-year-old Fritznel Richard, was trying to reach his family in Florida in time for the holidays. His body was found in early January. The second, Jose Leos Cervantes, 45, was also heading into the United States on Feb. 19, and collapsed just as U.S. border patrollers approached him and the two people he was with, shortly after they had made it into Vermont.

Richard and Leos Cervantes were crossing into the States, whereas people taking the Roxham Road unofficial border crossing south of Montreal are coming into Canada. Experts say the very reason the crossing became popular is because it is accessible and safe. They worry its closure will simply lead people to take the kinds of risks that have resulted in the deaths of people heading south.

“The global result of this is just more danger, more deaths and more humanitarian catastrophes,” said Mireille Paquet, an assistant professor of political science at Concordia University.

Details of the deal reached between Canada and the U.S. to close Roxham Road leaked to various media outlets over the course of Wednesday afternoon, hours before U.S President Joe Biden was set to arrive in Ottawa for his two-day visit with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Friday’s agreement between the prime minister and Biden, which actually dates to April 2022, evokes an evolving global approach to surging migration: widening legal pathways while cutting off the irregular ones.

Radio-Canada reports the closure will take effect at midnight.

Details of the agreement were released Friday afternoon in a joint statement made by the two leaders.

The statement says the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection “enshrines our belief that irregular migration requires a regional approach centred on expanding legal pathways and humane border management and recognizes that we must address the underlying economic and security drivers of migration.”

Under this principle, Canada will welcome an additional 15,000 migrants on a humanitarian basis from the Western Hemisphere over the course of the year to continue expanding safe, regular pathways as an alternative to irregular migration.

Before the meeting, the L.A. Times and Le Devoir reported that migrants who are caught within 14 days of making it across the border into Canada outside of official checkpoints would be deported. Those details were not released in the joint statement.

Prior to the joint statement’s release, Stéphanie Valois, the president of the Quebec association of immigration lawyers (AQAADI), said the deal could go against international conventions Canada has signed.

Those agreements stipulate that refugees “should not be returned to a country where they face serious threats to their life or freedom,” according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees website.

Valois said it’s unlikely that closing Roxham — where an RCMP post has been set up to briefly detain and process asylum seekers — will stop people from crossing altogether, and that it would only prompt migrants to go into hiding after arriving in Canada.

“It seems completely counter-productive to me,” she said.

‘Worst scenario possible’

Paquet noted that 15,000 is a low number compared to the amount of asylum seekers other countries, such as the U.S. and Germany, accept every year, as well as in comparison to the nearly 40,000 migrants, primarily from Haiti, Turkey, Colombia, Chile, Pakistan and Venezuela, who crossed at Roxham Road in 2022.

There are currently 4.6 million people seeking asylum across the world, according the UNHCR’s latest figures.

Accepting migrant crossings at the border does not mean accepting them to stay permanently, she said, echoing Valois, but accepting to heart “their story and their request for protection,” as outlined in the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees signed in 1951.

“This is closing the passage, but it’s also turning our backs on our international commitments,” Paquet said.

Frantz André has helped hundreds of asylum seekers after arriving in Quebec through Roxham Road. He flew to Florida in late January to bring Fritznel Richard’s ashes to his wife Guenda and to attend Richard’s funeral in Naples.

André struggled to believe the deal, which would in effect mean Canada will no longer accept asylum seekers at the border, if they already made a claim in the U.S.

“There’s no way — I mean, that’s ridiculous,” he said. “We’re simply creating the worst scenario possible.”

Source: Closing Roxham Road will lead to ‘humanitarian catastrophes,’ immigration experts warn

Another article, with USA activist perspectives:

Closing the northern U.S. border to asylum seekers bound for Canada solves a political problem for Justin Trudeau, but immigration advocates denounced it Friday as a “shameful” decision that will only endanger lives.

Friday’s agreement between the prime minister and President Joe Biden, which actually dates to April 2022, evokes an evolving global approach to surging migration: widening legal pathways while cutting off the irregular ones.

But making it harder than ever for migrants to claim asylum will only encourage them to undertake ever more dangerous journeys, said Yael Schacher, director for the Americas at Refugees International.

“Asylum is getting more and more restricted in the United States, so not having a way to get to Canada to ask for asylum is a big cut-off,” Schacher said.

“The problems with the U.S. asylum system and access to asylum in the United States are already getting worse, so there’s all the more need for this pathway to Canada, which is now being cut off.”

Biden and Trudeau have agreed to a supplement to the 2004 treaty known as the Safe Third Country Agreement, which governs asylum claims by migrants crossing the Canada-U.S. border.

The treaty expressly forbids such claims at official entry points, but was silent on other unofficial border crossings — a big reason why Canada has seen for years thousands of would-be claimants slipping into the country at junctures like Roxham Road in Quebec, where they can request asylum without fear of being returned to the U.S.

That all changes as of early Saturday morning, when the supplement — the “Additional Protocol 2022” — takes effect, extending the terms of the treaty so they apply along the full extent of the nearly 9,000-kilometre frontier.

The extension runs afoul of commitments both leaders have made to respect the rights of people who are in need of asylum, said Savitri Arvey, a senior policy adviser with the Women’s Refugee Commission.

“Overall, it represents a continuation of various steps that the Biden administration has taken to block access to asylum,” Arvey said. “It inevitably impacts the most vulnerable and forces them to take even more dangerous routes.”

The two countries have already agreed to the new protocol, which will require amendments to existing U.S. regulations, according to a draft order posted Friday on the U.S. Federal Register.

It will ensure the agreement applies to “individuals who cross between the official (points of entry) along the U.S.-Canada shared border, including certain bodies of water as determined by the United States and Canada.”

Canada has agreed as part of the deal to welcome an additional 15,000 migrants from across the Western Hemisphere this year — a figure that towers over the paltry 4,000 they agreed to last June at the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles.

Migrants have been flooding Roxham Road in recent years; more than 39,000 asylum claims were filed in 2022 by people who were intercepted by the RCMP, the vast majority of them in Quebec.

Rema Jamous Imseis, the UN Refugee Agency’s representative to Canada, acknowledged in a statement the challenges posed by the sheer scale of migrants arriving in both countries.

The agency “urges all governments to keep in mind their obligation to provide haven to those fleeing conflict, violence or persecution.”

Amnesty International Canada was decidedly less diplomatic, condemning the decision as “shameful” and “an affront to the rights of refugee claimants seeking safety in Canada.”

There’s nothing like the same number of would-be claimants moving south from Canada into the U.S., prompting questions about the political upside for Biden — who has much larger migration headaches at the Mexico-U.S. border.

One thing is clear, said Schacher: the agreement “will benefit Canada much more than the U.S. Trudeau is winning on this deal.”

One emerging theory revolves around Title 42, the pandemic-era public health measure imposed in March 2020 that gave the U.S. broad power to expel migrants for fear of the spread of COVID-19.

The Biden administration’s original plan to was to rescind the measure on May 23, 2022 — less than six weeks after U.S. regulatory documents say the supplement to the Safe Third Country Agreement was signed on April 15.

A lawsuit brought by Republican state attorneys-general, however, forced the U.S. to cancel its original plan to revoke Title 42. It’s now slated to end May 11.

“We are very concerned that following May 11, the plan (at the southern border) is for a proposed rule that would block asylum seekers who had transited through other countries,” Arvey said.

“The comment period for the proposed rule actually closed on Monday, and we know the intention is for that to go into place on May 11. So there are some parallels there for sure.”

The U.S. has long been preoccupied with ensuring parity between north and south in its border measures, fuelling speculation that the Canada-U.S. agreement could be in anticipation of new post-Title 42 measures.

“I think it might be something like, ‘Well, we have to think about parity between the way we treat like Mexico and Canada,'” Schacher said.

Canada, too, has a lot of international credibility on migration issues, she added, and could be a big help in selling a new “managed migration paradigm” for the hemisphere that puts the emphasis on legal pathways.

“That would be a big deal for the Biden administration, because Canada is seen as even more progressive on refugee issues generally than the United States.”

Elora Mukherjee, director of the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic at Columbia Law School, called the new deal an “unfortunate development” for asylum seekers.

Source: Canada-U.S. deal on migration will limit safe options for asylum seekers: advocates

La majorité des demandeurs d’asile hébergés par Québec ne sont pas passés par Roxham

Of note (as Rodham Road becomes covered by the STCA):

Le premier ministre François Legault a de nouveau déclaré jeudi qu’il souhaitait que le chemin Roxham soit « fermé », car le Québec aurait « dépassé sa capacité d’accueil ». Les données montrent toutefois que la majorité des demandeurs d’asile dans des hébergements gérés par la province ne sont pas arrivés par là.

Le plus grand groupe de migrants présents sur les sites du Programme régional d’accueil et d’intégration des demandeurs d’asile (PRAIDA) provient du Mexique. Or, seuls 15 Mexicains sont arrivés au pays en passant entre des points d’entrée officiels depuis le début de 2023, selon Immigration, Réfugiés et Citoyenneté Canada (IRCC).

Le PRAIDA confirme que la majorité des demandeurs d’asile hébergés dans ses sites sont plutôt passés par l’aéroport et proviennent du Mexique. « Ce phénomène date d’environ 12 mois et il semble fluctuer en fonction du prix des billets d’avion », indique Carl Thériault, relationniste pour le PRAIDA.

Depuis 2016, les ressortissants du Mexique n’ont plus besoin de détenir un visa pour visiter le Canada. Ils peuvent séjourner en tant que touristes au pays durant six mois et donc venir en avion.

En 2022, 7483 demandes d’asile de Mexicains ont été envoyées à la Commission de l’immigration et du statut de réfugié (CISR), le tribunal qui se charge de déterminer si un demandeur a besoin de protection ou non.

Au total, le tiers des quelque 59 000 demandeurs d’asile arrivés au Québec en 2022, soit 19 800 personnes, ne sont pas passés par Roxham. Cette tendance s’est poursuivie en janvier, dernier mois pour lequel les données sont disponibles. Ces demandes d’asile ont pu être déposées à un point d’entrée aérien ou maritime, ou à un bureau à l’intérieur du territoire. L’Entente sur les tiers pays sûrs ne concerne que les passages terrestres et, par omission, elle permet de demander l’asile à des points d’entrée non officiels.

Pression réelle et « instrumentalisation »

Dans une lettre transmise en février au premier ministre Justin Trudeau, M. Legault se plaint que la situation au chemin Roxham crée une pression intenable sur les services, dont l’hébergement temporaire.

Le PRAIDA relève du gouvernement provincial, mais ses coûts sont couverts par le fédéral. Ottawa héberge aussi environ 2400 demandeurs au Québec et près de 4900 en Ontario, surtout des personnes qui arrivent entre les points d’entrée désignés, donc par Roxham, indique IRCC par courriel au Devoir.

Les transferts vers l’Ontario ont commencé le 30 juin 2022 et, jusqu’à maintenant, environ 8000 demandeurs ont été transférés après leur arrivée au Québec à la frontière sud. Le premier ministre québécois n’en est pas encore satisfait. « On voit qu’en mars, on est rendus à 58 % des nouveaux arrivants par Roxham qui sont envoyés à l’extérieur du Québec. Mais ce n’est pas encore suffisant », a-t-il affirmé jeudi matin.

Cette situation, le fait qu’une bonne partie des demandeurs d’asile dans les hébergements ne soit pas passée par Roxham, date cependant d’avant ces transferts, comme l’indiquent le porte-parole du PRAIDA et deux organismes de terrain. Le réseau communautaire accueille également sa part de demandeurs d’asile et leur offre aussi des services durant un temps limité.

Peu importe qu’un demandeur d’asile arrive par Roxham ou par l’aéroport, « tout le monde peut avoir besoin d’un hébergement, y compris les personnes du Mexique », précise Arthur Durieux, gestionnaire de l’organisme Le Pont. Il évalue qu’environ la moitié des familles présentes dans son centre d’accueil ne sont pas passées par le chemin désormais célèbre au sud du Québec.

Son organisme ne reçoit aucun financement public, mais il se dit « excédé » par le discours politique sur les demandeurs d’asile. « La demande est très forte en ce moment, mais Québec a nié de l’aide aux organismes depuis des années », lâche-t-il au téléphone.

Le nombre de places dans les lieux traditionnels d’hébergement du PRAIDA n’a pas changé depuis 2017, année où les arrivées se sont accélérées. Des sites temporaires avaient néanmoins ouvert leurs portes durant cette année-là, dont le Stade olympique, mais depuis que le chemin Roxham a rouvert en novembre 2021 après les restrictions pandémiques, Québec refuse d’augmenter la capacité d’accueil.

« On paie les pots cassés de ce qui n’est pas pris en charge par le gouvernement. C’est sur le dos du communautaire, car il n’y a pas de leadership, pas de volonté politique, pas de coordination », déplore quant à elle Eva Gracia-Turgeon, directrice du Foyer du monde.

Elle constate aussi que la majorité des demandeurs d’asile qui cognent à la porte de sa maison d’accueil ne sont pas passés par Roxham. « Ça date d’avant les transferts vers l’Ontario », précise-t-elle, ce qui montre à son avis « une certaine instrumentalisation » des demandeurs de Roxham.

En janvier dernier, une coalition d’organismes communautaires a lancé un cri du coeur. Cet appel a été entendu par le gouvernement caquiste, qui a rapidement débloqué 3,5 millions de dollars en aide d’urgence.

« Le message du communautaire n’était pas que le Québec est “plein”, c’était qu’on a besoin d’un financement constant et, surtout, qu’un plan d’urgence soit mis en place », ajoute Mme Gracia-Turgeon.

La situation date d’avant le début des transferts vers d’autres provinces.

Source: La majorité des demandeurs d’asile hébergés par Québec ne sont pas passés par Roxham

Border crossings from Canada into New York, Vermont and N.H. are up tenfold. Local cops want help.

More on the southern flow at the border:

On the snowy border between New York and Canada, the local sheriff’s office is calling for the U.S. Border Patrol to put more manpower behind what the locals call a growing crisis: The number of illegal border crossings in the area over the last five months is nearly 10 times what it was over the same time last year, and the border crossers are in danger of freezing to death.

From Oct. 1 to Feb. 28, about 2,000 migrants crossed the border between Canada and New Hampshire, Vermont and New York south through the forests, compared to just 200 crossings in the same period the previous year.

The migrants are mainly from Mexico, and they can travel to Canada without visas before they cross illegally into the U.S., often to reunite with their families.

Last weekend, Clinton County, New York, Sheriff David Favro’s team assisted Border Patrol in rescuing 39 migrants, some whose clothes had frozen to their bodies.

“We are seeing more and more people, and it can be a deadly terrain if you’re not familiar with it,” Favro said.

He said responding to rescues like that has taxed the resources of his department, already stretched thin to cover the residents of his rural county, population 80,000, which shares about 30 miles of border with the Canadian province of Quebec.

“The only way to really be able to cover and protect [the northern border] is boots on the ground,” Favro said.

Just last week, Customs and Border Protection added 25 agents to the area, the Swanton Sector, to deter migration. But Favro and other locals who spoke to NBC News in Mooers, New York, said that’s not enough.

Mooers Fire Chief Todd Gumlaw said he recently helped rescue two Mexican women stuck in an icy swamp in the middle of the night. Gumlaw, along with Border Patrol, local police and EMS workers, was able to render first aid and get the women to a hospital to be treated for frostbite and mild hypothermia after they lost their shoes in the swamp, he said. “Preservation of human life is first and foremost with my department. We put [immigration status] to the back of our mind,” Gumlaw said.

The Mooers/Champlain region is a clump of small blue-collar residences and farms, where, according to locals, “everyone knows everyone” and properties can be several blocks apart, adding a sense of unease among some of the locals witnessing the mass migration in the region.

According to local first responders, southbound migrants often seek shelter in empty sheds and barns to shield themselves from the cold.

April Barcomb, a Mooers resident, said she has had migrants show up at her doorstep and is now saving up for security cameras.

“It’s not something I would usually do,” she said. “But it makes me think twice. And with the kids and the family, I gotta install cameras.”

While most locals who spoke to NBC News said they understood that most migrants crossing the region aren’t threats, neighbors are keeping their eyes open for unusual activity.

“People are scared,” a Champlain County resident said. “It’s the fear of the unknown. They’re [neighbors] worried about their safety, because they don’t know these people.”

Most of the migrants are Mexicans, who are frequently blocked from crossing the southern U.S. border and believe they will have an easier time if they fly to Canada and then cross into the U.S. from the north.

According to a CBP spokesperson, the Swanton Sector has been the site of more than 67% of all migrant crossings at the northern border across all eight sectors through February.

Unlike the southern border, where over 16,000 Border Patrol agents are responsible for staffing roughly 2,000 miles, about 2,000 border agents patrol the 5,000-mile border between the U.S. and Canada, which includes Alaska’s land boundaries, making it the longest international land border in the world.

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, a Republican, asked Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in a letter Tuesday to step up enforcement along his state’s 51-mile border with Canada or allow his police forces more authority to do so.

“Over the last few months, the State of New Hampshire has attempted to assist the federal government in securing our northern border. These offers of assistance have been repeatedly rejected. The Biden administration has cut funding and hindered the state’s ability to assist in patrolling the northern border,” Sununu said.

A spokesperson for CBP said the additional agents who were just sent to the Swanton Sector will help deter migration.

Source: Border crossings from Canada into New York, Vermont and N.H. are up tenfold. Local cops want help.