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Biden and Trudeau - Roxham Road

Roxham Road Border and Safe Third Country Agreement

Last Updated On 26 March 2023, 10:15 AM EDT (Toronto Time)

The Canadian government has secured an agreement with the United States on irregular migration that now allows Canada to block the Roxham Road unofficial crossing at the Canada-United States border.

On March 24, 2023, Canada and the United States announced the expansion of the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) across the whole land border, including internal waterways.

The expansion takes effect on March 25, 2023, at 12:01 a.m. EDT. If you crossed the border to seek asylum (refugee) and do not fit one of the Agreement’s exclusions, you will be deported to the United States.

As part of this commitment, Canada will accept an additional 15,000 migrants from the Western Hemisphere on a humanitarian basis over the course of the year.

This is to maintain the expansion of the safe, regular pathways already provided throughout the hemisphere as an alternative to unauthorized migration and as a path to job opportunities.

Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Grenada, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United States are among the 23 nations of North America in the Western Hemisphere.

Apart from these, 12 countries from South America also fall in Western Hemisphere. These are Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Urugya, and Venezuela.

According to sources, those positions will be new and will not reduce the number of immigrants and refugees that Canada has previously stated it will welcome.

What is Roxham Road Crossing

Roxham Road is an unofficial land border (dirt road) between Canada and United States, which runs through Quebec and New York. It is located around 50 kilometres south of Montreal.

The route serves as a popular unauthorized border crossing for asylum seekers attempting to enter Canada.

Since 2017, Canada has experienced an influx of refugees crossing the border from the United States at different irregular entry sites.

According to federal government figures, more than 39,000 persons sought refuge in Quebec in 2022 after entering the country illegally.

Roxham Road Border Crossing

What is Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA)?

A safe third country is a country where an individual, passing through that country, could have made a claim for refugee protection. 

Canada and United States has a Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) which means any foreign national in the United States cannot enter Canada and seek refuge.

It is illegal for an asylum seeker to cross the border anyplace other than an established port of entry.

However, once a person sets foot on the Canadian soil by any means (such as via Roxham road), then that person is lawfully permitted to apply for asylum and seek refugee status.

Previously, the STCA was only applicable at official border crossings and Roxham road is just an unofficial country-side ditch road connecting two countries.

On March 24 U.S and Canada has expanded this agreement to include all the official and unofficial borders effective March 25.

Now if any foreign national enters Canada from the United States and apply for asylum (refugee status), then Canadian authorities will return them back to the U.S.

Where is the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) applicable now?

The Safe Third Country Agreement applies to refugees seeking entrance into Canada from the United States.

  • at Canada-US land border crossings
  • after crossing between ports of entry and claiming refugee protection within 14 days of entering Canada
  • by train, or
  • at airports, only if the person seeking refugee protection in Canada has been denied refugee status in the US and is in transit through Canada after being deported from the US.

Exemptions to the STCA

Exceptions to the Agreement take into account the value of family unity, children’s best interests, and the public interest. There are four different kinds of exceptions:

  • Family members.
  • Unaccompanied minors.
  • Document holders
  • Public Interest

1. Family member exemption

Refugee applicants may be eligible for this exemption if they have a family member who:

  • is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada or a protected person under Canadian immigration legislation
  • has made a claim for refugee status in Canada that has been accepted by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB)
  • has had his or her removal order stayed on humanitarian and compassionate grounds
  • holds a valid Canadian work permit
  • holds a valid Canadian study permit
  • is above the age of 18 and has a refugee protection claim that has been referred to the IRB for adjudication.

Below listed relationships meet the definition of a family member:

  • spouse
  • legal guardian
  • child
  • father or mother
  • sister or brother
  • grandfather or grandmother
  • grandchild
  • uncle or aunt
  • nephew or niece
  • common-law partner
  • same-sex spouse

2. Exemption for unaccompanied minors

Minor refugee claimants who are (under the age of 18) and

  • are not accompanied by a parent or legal guardian
  • having no spouse or common-law partner, and
  • do not have a mother, father, or legal guardian in Canada or the United States.

3. Exemption of document holders

Refugee claimants may be eligible for this category of exceptions if they meet the following criteria:

  • possess a valid Canadian visa (other than a transit visa)
  • possess a valid work permit possess a valid study permit
  • have a travel document (for permanent residents or refugees) or other valid entry document issued by Canada, or are not required (exempt) to get a temporary resident visa to visit Canada yet require a visa granted by the United States to enter the United States.

4. Public Interest Exemption

Public interest exemption applies to asylum seekers if they have been charged with or convicted of an offence that might result in the death sentence in the United States or another nation.

A refugee claimant, on the other hand, is disqualified if he or she has been deemed inadmissible in Canada on security grounds, for breaching human or international rights, or for severe crime, or if the Minister considers the person to be a threat to the public.

Is Roxham road border crossing open?

Roxham Road is no longer open to refugees seeking to enter Canada. The Canadian government and the United States have agreed to block Roxham Road, an illegal border crossing just south of Montreal.

Canada is now turning away asylum seekers trying to enter via Roxham Road.

Where is Roxham Road border crossing?

Roxham Road is an unofficial land border (dirt road) that extends across Quebec and New York between Canada and the United States. It is around 50 kilometres south of Montreal.

What is Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) Roxham?

The Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) between Canada and the United States (U.S.) is part of the Smart Border Action Plan between the two countries.

As per this agreement, refugee claimants are obligated to seek refugee status in the first secure nation they arrive or land in.

Source: STCA

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