Canada’s immigration minister was due to speak with his US counterpart on Tuesday as the two countries face mounting political pressure to stem the flow of undocumented migrants across their common border.
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Sean Fraser’s office said the minister would meet with US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas before holding a press conference at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, DC.
The meeting comes as Quebec Premier Francois Legault has pushed the federal Liberal government to do something about the tens of thousands of potential asylum seekers who stream into the province each year from the United States.
In response, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau publicly acknowledged that it was time for Canada and the United States to renegotiate the 2004 immigration treaty that encourages migrants to sneak onto Canadian soil.
The Safe Third Country Agreement, as it is called, allows Canada and the United States to refuse asylum seekers from a third country who attempt to submit a refugee claim at a port of entry. official.
This treaty, however, does not cover claims by migrants who arrive in Canada by entering between official crossings, such as Roxham Road in Quebec, the country’s busiest unofficial entry point.
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More than 39,000 claims were filed in 2022 by people intercepted by the RCMP, the vast majority of them in Quebec.
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Legault urged Trudeau to raise the issue with US President Joe Biden, who is expected to make his first official in-person visit north of the border later this month.
“Roxham Road will eventually have to be closed, whether we like it or not,” Legault wrote in a letter to the prime minister last month.
“Quebec has a long tradition of welcoming refugees and we are proud to contribute to this humanitarian duty. However, this influx cannot continue…. The reception capacity for refugees has been largely exceeded.
Mayorkas, meanwhile, has been targeted by Republican rivals on Capitol Hill who want to hold him and the rest of the Biden administration responsible for what they call a “crisis” of illegal immigration to the United States. UNITED STATES.
Canada-US border policy and security, new target of Republican lawmakers
As part of that effort, some of Biden’s critics have increasingly started talking about the Canada-US border, though the scale of irregular migration falls far short of the numbers at the US-Mexico border.
They have formed the Northern Border Security Caucus, a new coalition of 28 Republican members of Congress who say they are concerned about the influx of drugs, crime and undocumented migrants from Canada.
The group recognizes that the perils of the northern border pale in comparison to the escalating migration crisis south of the Rio Grande.
But they cite a steady increase in recent months in the number of “encounters” between border agents and people without US legal status as evidence that the problem is likely to get worse before it gets better.
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Some blame Canada’s lack of visa requirements for travelers from Mexico and what they see as a less stringent student visa approval process than the United States.
From October through January, the first four months of fiscal year 2023, U.S. Customs and Border Protection recorded 55,736 encounters at or near the northern border with persons deemed inadmissible to the United States. United.
That was more than double the roughly 24,000 encounters in the same four months a year earlier, and already halfway to the 109,535 reported in the entire 12 months of fiscal 2022.
© 2023 The Canadian Press
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