U.S., Canada reach agreement to divert asylum seekers

OTTAWA — The U.S. and Canada have reached an agreement that allows each nation to turn back asylum seekers who cross their borders without authorization, according to published reports.

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The New York Times, citing an official “familiar with the agreement,” said the deal will be announced Friday when President Joe Biden meets with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa.

The agreement will allow Canada to turn back immigrants at places like Roxham Road, an unofficial crossing point from New York for migrants seeking asylum, according to the newspaper.

Under the deal, Canada would announce openings for 15,000 migrants from the Western Hemisphere to apply for legal entrance into the country, the Los Angeles Times and CBC reported.

The new policy applies to people without U.S. or Canadian citizenship who are caught within 14 days of crossing the border between the two nations, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The U.S. hopes the pact will “reduce incentives” to cross the border irregularly, the newspaper reported, citing a source who was granted anonymity “in order to discuss a still-confidential agreement.”

The Trudeau administration has been pushing to expand a 2004 migration treaty with the U.S. -- the Safe Third Country Agreement -- that limits how many asylum seekers Canada can turn back at its border, The New York Times reported.

The current agreement only allows Canada to divert a migrant if the person crosses into the country from an official port of entry between the two nations, according to the newspaper. Crossing at unofficial sites of entry like Roxham Road have surged over the past few years, The New York Times reported.

The Swanton Sector along the U.S.-Canada border has been overwhelmed by the rise in border crossings, CNN reported.

“Swanton Sector Agents are seeing elevated levels of illegal entries from Canada. In just over 5 months, we have apprehended more individuals than the last three (3) Fiscal Years combined,” Swanton Sector Chief Patrol Agent Robert N. Garcia tweeted earlier this month, calling it “unprecedented.”

U.S. arrests of migrants at the Canadian border have risen in the last few months, the Los Angeles Times reported, citing data from the Department of Homeland Security. The 2,856 arrests of migrants at the northern border this fiscal year, which began in October, have already eclipsed last year’s figure, the newspaper reported.

“I can assure you that in my conversations directly with President Biden, I have told him it is a priority for us,” Trudeau told the CBC in Feburary. Trudeau told CTV this week that the increases in crossings were a challenge not only for migrants but also for Canadians, who want their immigration system to be “rules-based.”

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