Canada and the U.S. could reach a deal to address irregular crossings at the controversial Roxham Road border point, according to multiple media reports.
Both Radio-Canada and the Los Angeles Times are reporting a deal has been made, though Global News has not independently verified the details in those reports. A report from The Canadian Press as well as a senior Canadian source speaking to Global News say a solution is in sight.
The source, speaking on background because they aren’t authorized to discuss the talks publicly, told Global News the solution was expected to stop short of opening up the Safe Third Country Agreement, because a formal renegotiation would get the U.S. Senate involved.
Both sides, that source said, want a solution that can be implemented quickly.
According to a Canadian government source cited by The Canadian Press, officials are negotiating on a deal that could designate all 8,900 kilometres of the shared Canada-U.S. border as an official crossing under the Safe Third Country Agreement, closing a loophole that has allowed migrants to pass through Roxham Road.
In exchange, Canada has agreed to let 15,000 migrants “from the Western Hemisphere” apply to enter the country legally, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Such a deal wouldn’t physically close Roxham Road, according to The Canadian Press, but it would mean migrants who cross there or any other unofficial crossing would be treated as if they crossed at an official border checkpoint. They would be returned to the U.S. to make an asylum claim there.
The crossing has been a consistent sticking point between the two countries as it had become a popular crossing into Canada due to the terms of the Safe Third Country Agreement, a deal made with the U.S.
Under the terms of the agreement, both Canada and the U.S. recognize each other as safe countries for people to make their asylum claims, and require claimants to make their application at the first official border point they arrive at.
But if asylum seekers cross through unofficial border crossings, such as Roxham Road, they can use a loophole to make their claim in Canada even if they came through the U.S.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has previously said that the only way to safely close Roxham Road would be to renegotiate the agreement.
The number of refugees crossing through the road had become an issue for Quebec, with its processing centres overloaded from the volume. Quebec Premier Francois Legault had been pushing hard for its closure.
Roxham Road is 50 kilometres south of Montreal. In 2022, 39,000 people claimed asylum after crossing an unofficial border point into Quebec.
— with files from The Canadian Press