“Canada and the United States are announcing a reciprocal arrangement that we will now be returning irregular migrants that attempt to cross anywhere at the Canada-U.S. border,” Trudeau said outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa
The move comes amid security concerns around screening people at irregular boarding crossings for COVID-19 and hours before the closure of the Canada-U.S. border to all but essential travel goes into effect at midnight.
Trudeau said the new measures are “temporary” but required as the world battles the new coronavirus outbreak which has sickened 246,275 worldwide, including at least 846 people in Canada.
As of Friday morning, 10 Canadians had died from COVID-19.
Friday’s announcement marks a significant reversal in policy for the Trudeau government who had previously looked at placing any border crossers into mandatory self-isolation. It will stop asylum-seekers from entering Canada at Roxham Road in Quebec
“Those who’ve already crossed the border will be put in isolation,” Trudeau said. “But in the future, those trying to cross the border irregularly will be released back into the U.S.”
The new announcement Friday would shut down informal crossings, like Roxham Road between New York and Quebec.
Conservative immigration critic Peter Kent said in a statement it was the “right thing to do.”“[I’m] pleased the government has heard CPC calls for stronger measures at the border,” Kent said in a statement. “Stopping asylum seekers at Roxham Road was the right thing to do to keep Canadians safe.”
Since the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada began tracking irregular border crossers in February 2017, Canada has received roughly 54,739 refugee claims.
Roughly 1,000 people a month have been entering Canada for nearly three years between formal border crossings in order to request refugee status here to get around the Safe Third Country Agreement with the U.S
Under the STCA, asylum seekers aren’t allowed to make formal requests for protection at official land border points, but people can make claims once inside the country.
-With files from the Canadian Press