Migrants: point of passage between United States and Canada arouses increasingly lively friction

The Roxham path, a flaw in an agreement signed between the two countries, should be on the menu for discussions between the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, and the American president, Joe Biden, during the latter’s visit to Ottawa , in March.

by Hélène Jouan (Montreal, Correspondence)

“Stop, orders a sign, it is illegal to pass the border here.” Directly attached, another sign, however, provides some precious advice to “ask for asylum in Canada”. These two juxtaposed opinions, planted in American territory at the end of the Roxham Road, less than ten kilometers from the village of Champlain, in the State of New York, and a few hundred meters from the official customs post of Saint-Bernard- de-lacolle, in Quebec, alone say the legal incongruity of this front door for immigrants: “irregular” but not illegal.

This crossing point on the border between the United States and Canada, located about 65 kilometers south of Montreal, is now known to all those, all over the world, aspire to find a refuge for them or Their family – of all those also who, such as the smugglers, trade in this hope. In 2022, the services of the Canada Border Services Agency recorded a record of 39,171 admissions.

This little piece of road, known as Roxham in Canada, should be on the menu for discussions between Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, and the American president, Joe Biden, during the latter’s visit to the latter Ottawa in March. On the Canadian side, it has become an “irritant”. An article published on February 6 by the American Tabloid New York Post, revealing that the City of New York, itself overwhelmed by the influx of migrants sent by Southern Republican States, offered free tickets to some of them To go to this Canadian crossing, heated the spirits a little more.

a flaw in an agreement

The Roxham path results from a flaw in the agreement on third party safe countries signed between the two countries of North America in 2002 and entered into force two years later. This agreement intended to coordinate protection requests, on the model of the Dublin agreements within the European Union, stipulates that migrants wishing to file an asylum application must do so in the first country they arrive. A foreigner from the United States cannot therefore claim the protection of Canada, under penalty of being repressed.

Except that the agreement only applies to the “official” entry points between the two countries, the customs stations located on the roads and in airports. Furthermore, under its own immigration and refugee protection law, Canada considers that “a potential refugee cannot be penalized by entering the country illegally, if it presents itself without delay to the competent authorities” . At Chemin Roxham, all infrastructure is planned to fulfill this condition: after having crossed the road to leave American, Mexican, Haitian, Colombians, Indian or Nigerian territory attracted by a Canadian protection system deemed to be safer than that offered by States -Unis, are recorded by agents of the Royal Gendarmerie of Canada responsible for the border control, then directed to the border services agency to file their asylum application.

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/Media reports cited above.