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US, Canada reach deal on decades-old asylum agreement

PUNJAB NEWS EXPRESS | March 24, 2023 08:34 PM

OTTAWA: In a significant move, the US and Canada have reached a deal on a decades-old asylum agreement that would restrict certain migrants from seeking protections in Canada, media reports said citing informed officials.

Biden, who is currently on a visit to Ottawa, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will make a formal joint statement on the deal on Friday.

Signed in 2002, the Safe Third Country Agreement applies to individuals who have transited through a country where they could've made an asylum claim because it's deemed safe, as the name of the agreement implies, reports CNN.

It is in effect at ports of entry, and individuals entering at a land port of entry may be ineligible to make a claim and be returned to the US.

But Roxham Road is not an official crossing, meaning that people who transit there could still seek protections in Canada even though they passed through the US.

As a part of the deal, Canada will create a new refugee programme for 15, 000 migrants fleeing persecution and violence in South and Central America, the BBC quoted officials as saying to the media.

Besides this deal, Biden will also talk about a series of economic and trade issues with Trudeau.

Speaking to CNN earlier on Thursday, the Canadian leader said hat "there's a lot of work being done... Hopefully we'll be able to make an announcement to reassure Canadians and Americans that we continue to handle migration seriously".

"Canada is always willing to do more. We're a country that has been built by the US and have been welcoming people from around the world.

"We just need to make sure we are doing it in responsible proper ways to continue to have our citizens positive towards Immigration as Canadians always are, " Trudeau added.

Meanwhile, American authorities have started flying migrants crossing from Canada into the US to Texas for processing and if eligible, expelling them to Mexico or their country of origin under a Covid-era border restriction, according to a Homeland Security official.

US Border Patrol has recently seen a historic high number of migrant crossings in the northern region, prompting the agency to send additional authorities to the region to assist, CNN reported.

The Swanton Sector, which covers some 24, 000 square miles along the US-Canada border, has fewer personnel than sectors along the US southern border and has been overwhelmed by the increase in border crossings.

The new US-Canada agreement could take effect quickly as it does not require the approval of US Congress.

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