With the busiest part of the Canada-U.S. border expected to reopen for the spring border rush, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a public appeal to incoming migrants in his hometown, Montreal, on Tuesday.
“The new policy means you will not be able to stay beyond the official border crossing if you enter illegally,” he said. “We cannot afford to be the world’s asylum-seeker camps.”
Covid-19, a policy started in the early 1990s by the Canadian Border Services Agency, was used to vet migrants arriving at the border between illegal border crossings.
Beginning in 1995, it required newcomers to apply for asylum within two days of arrival, in the hopes that they would be deterred from trying to cross illegally. All recent arrivals since Jan. 1, 2018, have been exempted from that deadline.
Protesters from the new coalition #NoTrudeauWelcome gathered outside his Montreal rally, according to La Presse. Some said they were boycotting the rally to protest the government’s new policy.
Canadian authorities began scrambling in late January after the U.S. government began removing children from migrant camps by force. Refugee lawyers called for a major review of how people arriving in the U.S. are processed, and the Canadian government launched the review after taking steps to ease the backlog.
Canada will open its ports of entry to immigrants and refugees between Monday, April 16, and Sunday, April 22.
The U.S. ordered the temporary shutdown of shelters on the border, telling officials they would end it Wednesday. A federal judge late Tuesday refused to delay the ruling, saying immigrants had a right to “receive asylum and protection under the U.S. Constitution.” The U.S. Department of Homeland Security promised it would comply.
Another judge in Detroit ordered similar closures Tuesday. A man is also asking for an emergency stay of the closure of the camp in Tornillo, Texas. He claims he will be subject to “deportation and state-sponsored violence.”
For both Canadian and U.S. immigration law, minors and unaccompanied minors were generally released to adult guardians under supervision of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
After the most recent Trump administration attempts to end that practice, human rights advocates and attorneys began pushing back. In February, immigrant advocates announced a new coalition to protest the closure of the border shelters with Canada.
The Canadian border change will pose a new headache for the Canadian government.
The public announcement from Trudeau was designed to keep people from entering Canada illegally at the height of the busiest time of year, which begins on Monday.
Trump declared a national emergency at the border last week and ordered that construction of a wall, which he and congressional Republicans say is needed to stem the flood of illegal immigrants and illegal drugs coming into the U.S., begins immediately. The move drew a strong response from Mexican officials, including the country’s interior minister, who said the president’s order would only accelerate immigration into the U.S. from Mexico.
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