According to reports in the media on Thursday, the US and Canadian governments have decided to amend an asylum seeker agreement that would permit the closing of an unauthorized US-Canada border crossing at Roxham Road, between the states of New York and Quebec.
The pressure on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to reach a deal with President Joe Biden to block off the whole land border to the majority of asylum seekers has intensified as a result of a dramatic rise in the number of asylum seekers entering Canada through unauthorized crossings.
The Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) governs border crossings between the two nations, but it does not extend to unofficial crossings like Roxham Road. Under the STCA, US and Canadian border patrol agents are permitted to turn away asylum applicants in both directions at official ports of entry.
According to the Los Angeles Times, which cited internal documents and an anonymous source familiar with the negotiations, Ottawa and Washington have finally reached an agreement to alter the STCA to permit each nation to send back asylum seekers who cross the border without authority. According to the Times, Canada is anticipated to announce 15,000 seats as part of the accord to allow migrants from the Western Hemisphere to seek to join the nation lawfully.
As part of the agreement with the Biden administration to close Roxham Road, Ottawa had also agreed to accept a certain number of migrants through legitimate channels, according to a previous report from Radio-Canada.
A agreement had been made, according to the New York Times, and an announcement was planned for Friday.
Roxham Road is a dirt path that has become a route of choice for asylum-seekers hoping to enter Canada from the United States at what is known as an irregular crossing due to the absence of an official border checkpoint.
The media reports come ahead of Biden’s long-delayed visit to close ally Canada to express unity on Ukraine and the environment. He will be in Ottawa on Thursday and Friday to address Parliament and meet with Trudeau.
Trudeau’s office did not respond to a request for comment about the deal on the border crossing, but a government source said: “We’re encouraged by signals from the US, but nothing is done until it’s done, and the leaders meet tomorrow.”
“We’re hopeful for progress coming out of those meetings tomorrow,” the source said, declining to be named because the negotiations are not public.
Speaking with reporters on Wednesday, Trudeau said the US and Canadian governments had been working to resolve the “complex” issue of irregular border crossings for many months and that he hoped to make an announcement about it soon.