An unofficial border crossing in rural Quebec that was used by asylum seekers to enter Canada has reopened after being closed for much of the pandemic.
The crossing at Roxham Road, on the Canada-U.S. border south of Montreal, is where thousands have crossed into the country to make a claim for refugee status.
The federal government ordered the crossing shut in March 2020 as the pandemic closed the U.S.-Canada border, but as of Sunday the order has been lifted.
The Canadian Council for Refugees says that other than quarantine-related rules due to COVID-19, the situation is as it was pre-pandemic, with claimants having to enter outside of an official port of entry to avoid being immediately returned to the United States.
Under the 2004 Safe Third Country agreement, Canada and the United States recognize each other as safe, and potential refugees must file their claims in the first country they reach.
But the agreement only applies to claims made at an official border crossing, so if asylum seekers enter at a so-called irregular crossing, they are entitled to a hearing.
Janet Dench, the council’s executive director, says advocates don’t expect the huge numbers of arrivals that were seen in 2017 and 2018.