(Quebec) Prime Minister François Legault asks Justin Trudeau to immediately close Roxham Road, a “sieve” that allows the entry of “more than 100 migrants a day”, which he considers unacceptable.
“We are clearly asking the federal government, Justin Trudeau, to close Roxham Road because it is becoming unmanageable, the amount of people coming through there. We can’t go on like this, ”said Mr. Legault on Wednesday at a press briefing.
A marked increase in the number of migrants daily using Roxham Road, described as a “strainer” by Immigration Minister Jean Boulet, is forcing him to make the exit today, he said.
“Currently, more than 100 migrants come in every day. If you make a rule of three, that means more than 36,000 migrants per year. It is unacceptable, it is impossible. We don’t have that capability,” Legault said.
He laments that a “good portion” of migrants who take the Roxham Road “are not refugees,” but that the federal government’s processing time — over 14 months — is delaying their deportation from the country too much. Meanwhile, the Quebec government must “provide services, house them, send the children to school,” Mr. Legault laments. “Our capacity is not unlimited. All of a sudden, we have 36,000 more people coming in every year. The federal government must take responsibility,” he said.
Minister Boulet went further. Since the reopening of Roxham Road, 13,000 migrants have crossed the border. Of those, 10,800 are receiving welfare benefits, he noted. He also attacks the federal government, which is slow to offer them a work permit – 11 months on average. This massive influx of people also creates pressure on housing, explained the minister. “They are provided with temporary accommodation for an average of 15 days; 75% live here. And so, beyond the 15 days, there is pressure on public employment services, on housing, on health services, social services, school,” he listed.
Mr. Boulet said that Quebec is open to humanitarian reception, but in an “orderly and legal” way.
On the demand to close Roxham Road, the Coalition avenir Québec will have at least one ally: the Parti Québécois. Its leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon also makes this request, and believes that it is a “bad move by the federal government which intentionally seeks to create disorder on our border”.
“It is perfectly legitimate for Quebec to say: there is a smarter and more respectful way for our society to plan asylum claims,” explained Mr. St-Pierre Plamondon. He believes the path must be closed until the Safe Third Country Agreement is renegotiated.
However, he accuses the CAQ of playing a double game and of being “unfair” by claiming on the one hand that the current situation is “unacceptable”, then then of signing a 50 million contract over 10 years to house asylum seekers. passing through Roxham, as revealed by Radio-Canada.
The two other opposition parties in the National Assembly, the Liberal Party and Québec solidaire, oppose the closure of Roxham Road.
Liberal MP Carlos Leitão says that from a “humanitarian” point of view, it would be “counterproductive” to close this path. “We shut it down and then what?” We’re just going to move the problem elsewhere,” he said.
“These people will find another way to cross the border. A summer, it can be fine, in the sense that the risks are lower. But what will happen later, in winter, for example? When does it become a risk to human life? Above all, I advocate implementing a mechanism with the Americans to regularize border crossings,” Leitão said.
“This is a call for a fact-based debate. Based, yes, on humanism, but also on pragmatism. Closing Roxham Road won’t solve anything. It’s just going to make people go through even more difficult paths. That’s our message this morning,” said QS parliamentary leader Gabriel-Nadeau Dubois.
Mr. Nadeau-Dubois believes that Quebec must learn to deal with the arrival of waves of refugees “without falling into simplistic solutions and intellectual shortcuts”. “We’re facing a lot of instability right now globally. Today there is war in Ukraine. There are refugees on the planet. And we are heading towards a climate crisis that will generate tens and tens of millions of climate refugees. Saying, we’re going to close a path, that won’t solve any problem. It takes us away from an intelligent and pragmatic resolution of these issues, ”he lamented.
Under the Safe Third Country Agreement, which came into effect in 2004, Canada and the United States recognize each other as “safe places” in which to seek refuge and protection. This means in practice that Canada may turn away a potential refugee who arrives at land ports of entry along the Canada-US border, because that refugee must pursue their asylum claim in the United States, where they are originally from. first arrived.
It was this agreement that prompted asylum seekers to take Roxham Road in Montérégie, because this passage is not an “official entry point”; Canada must therefore process their asylum application.