Canada and the United States have closed an immigration agreement this Friday that resolves one of the last pending issues between the two neighbors and partners.
The pact, announced after the meeting in Ottawa between the president of the United States, Joe Biden, and the host prime minister, Justin Trudeau, will restrict the entry of asylum seekers who were arriving in greater numbers to Canada through the so-called "migration route". north”, but it will also launch a refugee reception program in that country with which both governments hope to alleviate the migratory pressure on the southern border of the United States.
The agreement will take effect immediately.
Canada will begin the expulsion of these migrants, many of them from Latin American countries, tonight, as announced by Trudeau during a press conference together with his American guest.
Until now, Canada could turn away irregular immigrants who entered its territory through official border crossings on its dividing line with the United States.
But access through other "irregular" points of entry was not included in the protocols between the two countries.
A legal vacuum that had created the so-called "northern migratory route": after entering the US through the southern border, groups of migrants mainly from Colombia, Chile, Haiti, Mexico, Pakistan, Turkey and Venezuela traveled to New York.
From there they headed north of that state and entered Canada through the Roxham Road pass.
At this informal border point, migrants can request asylum in Canada even if they wait on US soil.
In 2022, nearly 40,000 asylum seekers entered the country irregularly, most of them through the Roxham Road crossing.
This represents 60% of the total requests registered in Canada throughout the year.
Another 9,500 arrived in Canada between January and February of this year, according to the Canadian television network CBC, something that has triggered calls from opposition parties and the Quebec government to close that unofficial crossing.
Ottawa and Washington “are set to implement an agreement that will extend the terms” of the previous agreement “to asylum seekers who cross the borders (at informal crossings) between border posts, which we anticipate will stop irregular migration at our border shared.
We will coordinate closely as we work to put this new agreement into effect," said the joint statement distributed by the United States and Canada after the meeting of their leaders.
At the same time, "Canada will host an additional 15,000 migrants annually from the Western Hemisphere for humanitarian reasons to further expand safe and official pathways, with an open path to economic opportunity, offered on the continent as an alternative to irregular migration," adds the joint statement.
The United States hopes the pact will help reduce pressure on its southern border, where migrants who crossed the border fleeing poverty and violence in their countries of origin numbered around 3 million people last year.
At the beginning of January, Biden included the citizens of Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela among the nationalities that the US security forces can expel to Mexico if they cross the southern border irregularly, in application of the so-called title 42. That measure, which will expire at the beginning of May, was launched by the Administration of then-President Donald Trump during the pandemic and uses health reasons to justify the returns.
By then, the US government plans to replace that measure with a rule that will prevent most non-Mexican migrants who cross that border illegally from seeking asylum, a step that human rights organizations have criticized.
That tightening is combined with other efforts to facilitate legal entry, including a sponsorship program launched last year that allows up to 30,000 migrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela to enter the United States.
The Biden Administration attributes the reduction in the number of irregular immigrants detected at the southern border in recent months to this policy.
In January, that figure was 130,000 people, while in November it had reached 207,000.
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