Ottawa vows to crack down on smugglers at Roxham

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Ottawa promises to crack down on smugglers in Roxham

Justin Trudeau's government is hoping for American help in investigating the lucrative migrant transport trade, after Investigation revelations.

Multiple white vans arrive weekly at Roxham Road, filled with migrants crossing the border into Canada.

The transport of asylum seekers by private drivers to the end of Roxham Road, on the American side, to cross the Canadian border on foot has become a very profitable industry.

I like is of great concern, admits Public Security Minister Marco Mendicino, referring to the Investigation revelations released in mid-September.

Every week since last winter and the reopening of Roxham Road, white vans have been disembarking dozens of migrants from Florida in particular.

This new phenomenon, comparable to organized travel for several hundred dollars, did not exist before the start of the pandemic.

The organizers of these trips are criminals, judges Minister Mendicino, who initially declined our interview requests.

“He all abuses in the asylum system must be punished. Bring the criminals back to court. »

— Marco Mendicino, Minister of Public Security

In Canada, we have a strategy to [combat] human trafficking. This is one of our priorities. We are making a lot of effort, he says.

Roxham Inc., the report broadcast on the program Enquête

Questioned several times in the House by the Bloc Québécois earlier in the week, the Trudeau government was less talkative. In the eyes of the Bloc leader, Yves-François Blanchet, Ottawa tolerates a business of smugglers to enter Quebec and Canada.

Ni Chrystia Freeland, vice – Prime Minister, nor Marco Mendicino had really responded to the Bloc's attacks in Parliament, preferring instead to dodge the subject.

There have never been so many asylum seekers who cross the border at Roxham Road.

In the eyes of Minister Mendicino, in an interview with Radio-Canada, there are, however, challenges to be resolved at Roxham Road.

< p class="e-p">Will he ask the US government to prosecute these smugglers? The United States, he replies, are responsible in their jurisdiction, in their country, for arresting criminals.

But, he assures us, there is very good collaboration between the two countries. Investigations could be launched, confides the elected Liberal, while admitting to being in a difficult situation.

“This is not an easy file. The problem is so complex! And there is not just one solution. »

— Marco Mendicino, Minister of Public Security

It must be recognized, he adds, that refugees and asylum seekers make a very difficult journey [to reach in Canada]. There is a lot of vulnerability.

Marco Mendicino, the Minister of Public Safety, swears to work in cooperation with the United States regarding border crossings at Roxham Road.

During our investigation, several sources confided that US law enforcement is intentionally turning a blind eye to this trafficking of people wanting to come to Canada, because they are too busy managing the arrival of thousands of migrants from Mexico.

Marco Mendicino doesn't want to comment on these allegations. This is why we must continue to work with the American authorities, he replied soberly, highlighting the very good collaborations and conversations with Joe Biden's team.

< p class="e-p">We can fix the problem at the source, [but] it's not easy. I recognize that there are challenges, he repeats. We need to give the Border Services Agency more surveillance tools. We will do the work on the ground.

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At the same time, the number of asylum seekers arriving via Roxham Road continues to increase: 2022 is already a banner year for Canada.

The latest data made public confirm this growing influx. In August, more than 3,200 people crossed the border through this crossing located between New York State and Quebec.

Since the beginning of the year, nearly 23,200 asylum seekers have used this route.

While François Legault, the outgoing Premier of Quebec, and the Parti Québécois are calling for a closure of Roxham Road, this option clearly does not seem a priority for the federal government.

The vast majority of refugees contribute very positively, reacts Marco Mendicino. It is not responsible to assume that every person who passes through Roxham is a criminal. We must protect the rights of refugees.

A thinly veiled message to François Legault, who declared last spring that a majority of these people were not really refugees.

Roxham Road is located in Champlain, a rural village in New York State.

The reason the Roxham Road has become popular for both migrants and smugglers is because of a loophole in the Safe Third Country Agreement. This agreement, signed by the United States and Canada in 2004, obliges asylum seekers to apply in the first of the two countries they cross.

Thus, if a migrant from the United States presents himself at a Canadian customs post, he will be expelled.

However, this agreement does not regulate irregular passages, such as Roxham. Once on Canadian soil, due to international agreements signed by Canada, these people have the right to apply for asylum.

For several years, Ottawa has wanted to modernize this agreement. Following a Radio-Canada report, Justin Trudeau said he wanted to settle [in 2022] the question of irregular crossings.

According to our sources, however, discussions are slipping with United States. We are on the right track, nuance Marco Mendicino, who nevertheless remains vague on Canadian intentions.

The goal is to protect and strengthen the integrity of our borders at home. using a process that is fair and equitable. It's a complex problem, but we have a global strategy.

Pending the outcome of these negotiations, the Supreme Court of Canada will examine this case at the beginning of the month of October. Organizations defending refugees are calling for the abolition of this agreement.

The decision is hoped for by the end of the year to change the future of Roxham Road.

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