(Ottawa) Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday thanked Quebec for “generously” welcoming asylum seekers who take the now-famous Roxham Road south of Montreal to enter the country.
Posted at 5:38pm
Michel Saba The Canadian Press
“I want to emphasize how [le] Quebec, in particular, has been extraordinarily generous and present in this difficult situation. We recognize Quebec’s leadership in this regard, but we want to be in a situation where it doesn’t need to,” he said during a news conference at an auto plant in Windsor, Ontario.
From January to November 2022, 34,478 asylum seekers were intercepted by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) between border crossings in Quebec, almost all who entered Canada irregularly.
Mr Trudeau, who was asked to comment earlier this month on the discovery of the body of a migrant trying to cross the border into the United States, said his government was “very concerned” and it “underscores how much we continue to do so work with our American partners to improve the situation”.
The Prime Minister reiterated that his government is working to modernize the Safe Third Countries Agreement to “reduce these irregular crossings and encourage legal immigration”.
In mid-December, Federal Minister of Public Safety Marco Mendicino told Radio-Canada that an agreement had been reached with the United States to reform the deal, but Mr. Trudeau dampened his minister’s zeal almost immediately.
Roxham Road is a popular unofficial border crossing point for people wanting to avoid being subject to the Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement.
This agreement obliges asylum seekers to submit their application in the first “safe” country they reach. In other words, Canadian customs officials will turn away asylum seekers who report to official checkpoints from the United States, but not when crossing irregularly at places like Roxham Road.
Quebec Premier François Legault argued last month that Trudeau had “good intentions” about Roxham Road but he “expects action” from his counterpart.
During a meeting between the two men, Mr Legault said he advocated that we must “stop the massive entry of immigrants down this route” and said he saw an “opening” for some of the asylum seekers who would be transferred to other provinces .
According to the Québec Premier, the current situation poses a challenge in terms of franking, but also in terms of the healthcare, education and housing services that need to be provided.