Renegotiating the Safe Third Country Agreement is not a priority for Washington

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Renegotiating the Safe Third Country Agreement is not a priority for Washington

A sign warning people who attempt to cross illegally from the United States to Canada via the Roxham Road.

Renegotiate the Safe Third Country Agreement, an agreement between Ottawa and Washington on the processing of asylum applications, is not a priority for the American administration, said Wednesday David Cohen, the United States ambassador to Canada. Roxham Road is a “symptom”, and we must rather “attack the source of the problem”, he says.

Under the 19-year-old Safe Third Country Agreement, Canada and the United States recognize each other as safe havens where people can seek protection.

This means that Canada may turn away potential refugees who present themselves at official land ports of entry along the Canada-US border on the grounds that they must submit their claims in the United States, the country where they first arrived.

But since the agreement only applies to official border crossings, many refugees use irregular crossing points, including the now famous Roxham Road which ends in Montérégie, near Saint-Bernard-de-Bernard. -Glue. Once they are in Canada, their asylum claim can be processed by the authorities.

In 2022, a record 39,171 people crossed the border irregularly, according to the number of interceptions reported by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reiterated on Wednesday that the modernization of the Safe Third Country Agreement represents a solution to limit the influx of irregular refugees. According to him, this renegotiation has been underway for months, years and we are making progress.

But in an interview with the show Power & Politics, to CBC, the United States Ambassador to Ottawa claimed that no one in the United States is going to confirm that there are specific discussions around the Safe Third Country Agreement and I will not be the first responsible American to do so.

David Cohen is the United States Ambassador to Canada .

The diplomat recognizes that irregular migration is a major problem for Western countries, including Canada and the United States, but according to him, the Roxham Road is only a symptom of the problem.

“No matter what we do with the Safe Third Country Agreement, it will not solve, or very little, [the problem of] irregular migration. […] It is a mistake to think that you are going to solve the problem by treating only the symptoms. […] If you are serious, you have to attack the source of the problem. And yes, there have been discussions [with Canada] on this subject.

— David Cohen, U.S. Ambassador to Canada

We are committed to continuing productive discussions with Canada around this issue, he added, recalling that the issue of irregular migration was at the heart of the Los Angeles Declaration, an agreement signed last June with Canada and about 20 Latin American governments to limit the flow of migrants in the region.

I think we have to focus on the problem, not the symptoms of the problem, he repeated again.

The Roxham Road puzzle has raised a lot of concerns, especially in Quebec, prompting Prime Minister François Legault to launch an offensive in the direction of Ottawa demanding the closing of this passage. On Sunday, he wrote to Mr. Trudeau to demand that all people crossing this makeshift passage be redirected to other provinces.

The message was taken up by the leader of the official federal opposition, the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, Pierre Poilievre, who also demanded on Tuesday that Roxham Road be closed within 30 days. According to him, there is no need to review the Safe Third Country Agreement or even suspend it to close Roxham Road.

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