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US, Canada extend deal to reroute asylum seekers

The United States and Canada forged a deal that would have allowed both countries to turn back large numbers of asylum seekers amid a spike in illegal crossings at their shared border over the past year, two U.S. officials told CBS News on Thursday.

The deal, announced Friday during a meeting in Ottawa between President Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, would be a dramatic expansion of a 2004 agreement that allowed American and Canadian border officials to send some asylum seekers across the border. The US-Canada border is under the assumption that both countries are safe countries where immigrants can seek humanitarian asylum.

For the past two decades, the so-called “safe third country” agreement between the two countries has applied only at official border crossings, meaning American and Canadian authorities have not been able to turn back asylum seekers who entered each country illegally. .

But under the deal brokered this week, the deal would apply to migrants crossing the US-Canada border between official border crossings, a change that Canadian officials have long pushed for, said two US officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the deal. Before its official announcement.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation first announced details of the new deal on Thursday. As part of the deal, Canada will also commit to welcoming 15,000 immigrants from the Western Hemisphere through legal channels over the next year, one of the US officials said.

While the updated deal would increase both countries’ ability to reject asylum seekers amid unprecedented levels of immigration, it would arguably benefit the Canadian government the most, as the country has seen high numbers of illegal crossings from the United States into its territory. Recent years.

About 40,000 asylum-seekers crossed into Canada without authorization in 2022, most of them along an unofficial crossing known as Roxham Road that connects New York with the province of Quebec, Canadian government figures show. Another 9,500 immigrants entered Canada in January and February alone.

By contrast, the Border Patrol processed 3,577 immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally from Canada in 2022, according to government data. Although illegal crossings into the United States through the northern border have increased in recent months, rising to 628 in February, they remain below immigration levels recorded along the southern border, where thousands of immigrants are processed daily.

US law allows the government to deport asylum-seekers to third countries if it determines that those countries provide a “full and fair procedure” for immigrants to request asylum. The agreement with Canada is the only safe third country agreement that the United States currently implements. Similar agreements with Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador were canceled by the Biden administration under former President Donald Trump.

Amid mass migration to the Western Hemisphere and record migrant fears at the Mexican border, the Biden administration has sought to limit access to an increasingly overwhelmed US asylum system.

In early January, Mr A pandemic has expanded the scope of the era’s limitations Known as Title 42 along the southern border, Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela were added to the list of countries whose citizens could be deported to Mexico if they entered the United States illegally. The administration plans to replace Title 42, which is set to expire in early May, a rule that would disqualify most non-Mexican immigrants who legally cross the southern border from asylum.

Efforts to prevent illegal crossings have been linked to expanded opportunities for immigrants to enter the United States legally, including a mobile app for vulnerable asylum-seekers in Mexico and A sponsorship program It allows 30,000 immigrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela into the United States each month.

The revised U.S. strategy has so far led to a sharp drop in illegal crossings at the southern border, but officials expect the influx of migrants to increase in the spring after Title 42 is lifted.

More Camilo Montoya-Galvez


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