Despite being warned by police that they could be sent back, asylum seekers continued to cross into Canada through the unofficial United States border crossing into Quebec at Roxham Road.
This was a day after Canada and the US amended their 20-year-old asylum pact to stem the influx. Canadian authorities had just begun to process asylum seekers apprehended under the new protocol and had sent one back to the US.
The Safe Third Country Agreement, which originally meant that asylum seekers crossing into either country at formal border crossings were turned back and told to apply for asylum in the first “safe” country they arrived in, now applies to the entire 6,416-km land border.
Anyone who crosses into either country anywhere along the land border and who applies for asylum within 14 days will be turned back under the revised pact.
Roxham Road, which had become a notorious unofficial crossing for asylum seekers into Canada, closed at midnight on Saturday, but dozens crossed anyway. Police took them into custody, warning them they could be turned around. Critics say that enforcing the amended agreement by apprehending people who cross anywhere along the land border could be a logistical nightmare and put people at risk, and it may drive people into more dangerous, risky, and clandestine modes of entry across the 6,000 km border.