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Biden, Trudeau reach deal to stop asylum seekers at unofficial crossings-sources

Published 03/23/2023, 03:20 PM
Updated 03/23/2023, 09:02 PM
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Asylum seekers, who state they are from Turkey, walk down Roxham Road to cross into Canada from the U.S. in Champlain, New York, U.S., February 28, 2023. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi/File Photo

By Steve Scherer and Andrea Shalal

OTTAWA (Reuters) -The United States and Canada reached a deal aimed at stopping asylum seekers from entering the shared land border via unofficial crossings, though some details still need to be ironed out when the two sides meet, a Canadian government source and a U.S. official told Reuters on Thursday.

The revised Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) will be discussed on Friday at an official face-to-face between U.S. President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa, with the announcement likely afterward.

Trudeau has been under pressure to stop the flow of asylum seekers in Quebec, the mainly French-speaking province where he holds his parliamentary seat.

As part of the agreement, Canada will take in a additional 15,000 migrants over the next year on a humanitarian basis from the Western Hemisphere, the U.S. official said.

Biden arrived in Canada on Thursday on his long-delayed visit to express unity on Ukraine, and will address Parliament on Friday with Trudeau. The two leaders and their wives met privately at Trudeau's residence in the evening.

Border crossings between the two countries are governed by STCA, which allows U.S. and Canadian officials to turn back asylum seekers in both directions at formal ports of entry, but does not apply to unofficial crossings like Quebec's Roxham Road.

Roxham Road, a dirt path that has become a route of choice for asylum-seekers, made international headlines in 2017 soon after former U.S. President Donald Trump started to crack down on illegal migrants, resulting in a huge inflow of asylum seekers into Canada.

U.S. and Canada share the longest land border in North America and the new agreement would expand the pact so that it applies to the entire length and asylum seekers apprehended using unofficial crossings will be turned back.

Canada has been pushing the United States to extend the deal for a while. In recent months, there has been a sharp increase in asylum seekers entering Canada through unofficial border crossings.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security did not respond to requests for comment.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Asylum seekers, who state they are from Turkey, walk down Roxham Road to cross into Canada from the U.S. in Champlain, New York, U.S., February 28, 2023. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi/File Photo

Trudeau's office did not respond to a request for comment about the deal on the border crossing.

Speaking with reporters on Wednesday, Trudeau said the U.S. and Canadian governments had been working to resolve the "complex" issue of irregular border crossings for many months and that he hoped to make an announcement about it soon.

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