Roxham Road: A Deal Within Reach with the Americans

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Path Roxham: A deal within reach with the Americans

It will take 'months, not years' to solve the problems at the Canadian border -American, promises the Federal Minister of Public Security Marco Mendicino.

Federal Minister of Public Security Marco Mendicino.

The Federal Minister of Public Security says that an agreement has been reached with the Americans to modernize the agreement on safe third countries. This must now be ratified by both governments. However, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is not as optimistic as his minister.

In an interview with Radio-Canada, Minister Marco Mendicino says he is very confident that the process [of negotiation] is over and, now, it is the process of ratification in the United States.

“There is a lot of support for a new deal because the United States and we understand that we need to modernize the process. »

— Marco Mendicino, Federal Minister of Public Security

Changes to the Safe Third Country Agreement would allow Canadian authorities to return asylum seekers who enter Canada through irregular land border ports of entry, Minister confirms.

However, he does not want to reveal for the moment the details of the revision of this agreement which governs the movement of asylum seekers between the two countries. It does not specify whether the changes would apply to the entire Canadian border or just Roxham Road.

I am very confident that this is an agreement that makes sense, explains the minister. It's a matter of months, not years, he says.

The Minister emphasizes that these changes are intended to strengthen our borders, preserve the integrity of the immigration process, meet our obligations to asylum seekers and protect human rights is very important.

Time limits for hearing a refugee claim before the Immigration and of refugee status were 14 months in the spring of 2022.

Marco Mendicino says he wants to protect the most vulnerable applicants such as children. However, if some people want to abuse the system, there are mechanisms for them to be brought to justice here, or in the United States, he explains.

The Minister explains that he is receiving positive signals from Washington.

“I think that the United States understands that Roxham Road is a challenge for everyone, for them, for Quebec and for us, at the federal government level. »

— Marco Mendicino, Federal Minister of Public Security

He has spoken on this subject on many occasions with his American counterpart Alejandro Mayorkas, the Secretary of Homeland Security, with whom he has an excellent relationship, he says.

However, several other issues keep the two men very busy, such as the disagreement over the Nexus program, or arms trafficking at the border between the two countries.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been cautious about Roxham Road.

A little later in the day, however, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau downplayed his minister's remarks.

“Actually, I'm not quite as optimistic as Mr. Mendicino. We have work to do. We have made progress with the Americans. But, we remain focused on modernizing the agreement.

— Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

I am very confident that we can put in place a new agreement that is modernized to reflect the reality on the ground, had yet declared earlier Marco Mendicino.

He wants to ensure that law enforcement agencies, including the Canadian Border Services Agency, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), and the Sûreté du Québec have the necessary resources to strengthen our borders.

Political pressure is high on Ottawa as thousands of asylum seekers slip through the cracks of the Safe Third Country Agreement.

Between January and October 2022, nearly 31,000 migrants were intercepted by the RCMP in Quebec, mainly on Roxham Road.

The Border Services Agency has spent over $26 million managing this position. Radio-Canada revealed the existence of networks of smugglers on the American side to bring migrants there.

Quebec Premier François Legault

Let them start by settling Roxham! Quebec Premier François Legault was impatient on Friday, in the midst of a conflict with Ottawa over the province's immigration targets.

According to the Premier of Quebec, the number of people intercepted at the border has now reached 36,000 since the beginning of the year. There is a challenge in providing service to these people, he explains.

The Prime Minister would like Ottawa to take care of 78% of the people who present themselves at this irregular point of entry, which represents the weight of the rest of Canada. I do not see why it would be 100% of Quebecers who should provide services to these people, he explained.

Mr. Legault suggested to Ottawa that Roxham Road be considered an official point of entry, which would allow the application of the agreement on safe third countries and the return of asylum seekers who present themselves there.

Under the Safe Third Country Agreement, the United States is considered a safe country, which means that Canada cannot accept asylum seekers which come from it.

However, this agreement only applies to official border crossings. This loophole allows asylum seekers to venture into Canada through irregular ports of entry in order to stay there.

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