(Ottawa) Closing Roxham Road, as demanded by the Legault government, is not the solution to the problem of migrants who cross the Canada-US border irregularly, says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Such a measure would only move the problem to another border entry point, the prime minister argued Thursday.
“If we closed Roxham Road, people would go somewhere else. We have a huge border. We are not going to start arming or putting fences on it, ”said Mr. Trudeau after a meeting with the Prime Minister of Latvia, Krišjānis Kariņš.
“So if there are people who are going to be arriving irregularly, we can at least check them, we can at least do security checks, we can at least make sure they don’t get lost in the inside Canada,” Mr. Trudeau added.
He added that his government is continuing talks with the United States to implement changes to the Safe Third Country Agreement.
On Wednesday, Quebec Premier François Legault demanded that Ottawa immediately close Roxham Road, which he said has become a “sieve” that allows the entry of more than 100 migrants a day.
This request came as Quebec predicts that nearly 35,000 migrants could use this route to cross the Canada-US border in an irregular manner – an unacceptable situation that puts a strain on the reception and integration capacities of the Quebec, according to Mr. Legault.
At a press conference on Thursday, Mr. Trudeau reiterated that the federal government is quite willing to continue to give Quebec a financial boost in this file.
Under the Safe Third Country Agreement, only individuals who claim asylum at an official border crossing are returned to the United States. La Presse reported in December that Ottawa wanted to plug the breach that became Roxham Road, located in Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle.
Amendments to this agreement will give Canadian authorities the power to return a refugee claimant to the United States, regardless of whether they present themselves at an official port of entry on the Canada-United States border to make this claim or he deposits it after having crossed the border in an irregular way by taking the Roxham road, for example.
But before implementing this new agreement, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino and Mr. Fraser must pass the relevant regulations implementing the changes. Their American counterparts must do the same. And in Washington, this file is far from being a priority.
“We continue to have very good conversations with the Americans on the Safe Third Country Agreement. Obviously for the Americans, their context affects their two very different borders. But they want to try to have some equivalence or reasonable approach for their whole territory,” he explained.