The United States and Canada expand the agreement to redirect asylum seekers amid an increase in border crossings

The United States and Canada have struck an agreement that will allow both countries to turn away larger numbers of asylum seekers amid an increase in illegal crossings along their shared border in the past year, two US officials told CBS News Thursday.

The deal, set to be formally announced Friday during a meeting in Ottawa between President Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, would be a significant expansion of a 2004 agreement that allowed US and Canadian border officials to send some asylum seekers across the border. The border between the United States and Canada is based on the understanding that both countries are safe countries where immigrants can seek human refuge.

Over the past two decades, the so-called Safe Third Country Agreement Between the two countries only at official border crossings, which means that US and Canadian authorities have been unable to turn away asylum seekers who cross into each country illegally.

But under the agreement reached this week, the agreement will apply to migrants crossing the US-Canada border between official border crossings, a change Canadian officials have long been pushing for, said the two US officials, who asked not to be identified to discuss the agreement. before its official announcement.

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation I mentioned the details of the new agreement for the first time earlier on Thursday. As part of the deal, Canada will also commit to welcoming 15,000 immigrants from the Western Hemisphere over the next year through legal channels, one US official said.

While the updated agreement will enhance both countries’ ability to reject asylum seekers amid unprecedented levels of immigration, it will benefit the Canadian government the most, as the country has seen far more illegal crossings into its territory than the United States in recent years.

Nearly 40,000 asylum seekers crossed into Canada without permission in 2022, the vast majority of them along an unofficial crossing known as the Roxham Way that connects New York to the Canadian province of Quebec. government figures Displays. Another 9,500 immigrants crossed into Canada in January and February alone.

In contrast, the Border Patrol processed 3,577 migrants who crossed into the United States illegally from Canada in 2022, according to the Government data. While illegal crossings into the US along the northern border have increased in recent months, rising to 628 in February, they are still well below immigration levels recorded along the southern border, where thousands of migrants are processed each day.

US law allows the government to deport asylum seekers to third countries if it determines that those countries offer immigrants a “full and fair process” to claim asylum. The agreement with Canada is the only safe third country agreement currently in place by the United States. The Biden administration canceled similar agreements with Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador under former President Donald Trump.

Amid mass migration in the Western Hemisphere and registering migrant concerns along the border with Mexico, the Biden administration has increasingly sought to restrict access to the overcrowded US asylum system.

In early January, Mr. Biden Expanding the scope of the epidemic era restriction along the southern border known as Title 42, adding Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela to the list of countries whose citizens can be expelled to Mexico if they cross into the United States illegally. The administration plans to replace Title 42, which is set to expire in early May, with a rule that will deny asylum to most non-Mexican immigrants who legally cross the southern border.

Efforts to deter illegal crossings have coincided with expanded opportunities for immigrants to enter the United States legally, including a mobile app for vulnerable asylum seekers in Mexico and sponsorship programme Up to 30,000 immigrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela are allowed to travel to the United States each month.

The revamped US strategy has so far led to a sharp drop in illegal crossings along the southern border, but officials expect migrant arrivals to pick up in the spring, after Title 42 is lifted.

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