Minister defends STCA amid rise in irregular crossings IG News

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Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino says the Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) is “working” despite a huge increase in informal border crossing migrants last year compared to previous years.

Canadian officials and their American counterparts continue to work together to modernize the agreement, Mendicino told CTV’s Question Hour host Vaisey Kapelos in an interview that aired Sunday. Still, he insists the system is working.

“To be clear, this agreement is in place and it is working,” he said. “The work the RCMP are doing to stop those coming into the country clearly underscores the integrity of our borders and investments, which are supported by the federal government.”

The STCA was first signed 20 years ago, and since 2018 there has been talk of modernizing it, with some changes being made in 2019. Under the STCA, people seeking refugee status in Canada or the United States must first file their claim in that country. enter.

The loophole is that the agreement only applies to official land border crossings, meaning asylum seekers who manage to enter a country through an unofficial crossing – such as Roxham Road along the Quebec–New York border – do not come back.

The number of RCMP interceptions and asylum claims at informal border crossings between Canada and the US is set to reach a six-year high in 2022, according to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. There was a steep decline in numbers through spring 2020 and throughout 2021. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the border.

Meanwhile, there have been calls to update the agreement by 2018, which Mendicino said he hopes will be completed “in a very short period of time”, although he does not want to be “tied to any specific timeline”. .

Earlier this month, the body of a 44-year-old Montreal man was found near Roxham Road after he attempted to cross into the United States.

When pressed as to why they believe the current agreement is working there has been an increase in the number of people using unauthorized crossings, and one person has died trying to use Roxham Road. Mendicino said he “didn’t want to be reduced to that tragic situation,” and that “first, our hearts go out to the individual’s family.”

“What I’m talking about is the investment that we make to make sure that people who are coming in to seek asylum are processed and vetted, and that way they can claim their place in Canada, Or will return to the United States if they are not eligible,” he said. “It is a system that has been in place for many years now, and what we are talking about now is modernizing and strengthening the agreement that we are continuing to negotiate through. Which has been creative.”

Official talks about an update to the agreement were not on the agenda earlier this month when the prime minister and other officials went to Mexico City for a summit of North American leaders, but Mendicino said the STCA was discussed.

Mendicino said Canada and the US have had “prolonged talks” about the STCA on the sidelines of the North American Leaders’ Summit, and that “the process is ongoing” as far as modernizing the agreement is concerned.

“I’m cautiously optimistic that we’ll be able to land it,” he said. “In the meantime, we will continue to make historic investments and work with provincial and territorial partners so that asylum seekers who have grounds to make those claims in Canada are able to do so, but in a safe and secure manner.” Do it systematically.

“It is important that we recognize that we have an immigration system that works, and that promotes safe and orderly flow when it comes to asylum seekers as well as economic immigrants,” he added. Told.

Conservative leader Poilievre Poilievre said this week that the Liberal government should renegotiate the agreement “to close Roxham Road”, adding that he understands why people try to use it, because Canadian immigration The system is “so slow and so broken now.” He blamed the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada application backlog, and said the prime minister should “renegotiate the deal with the Americans, and generally speed up the process of immigration.”


With files from CTVNews.ca writer Tom Yoon and CTV Question Hour senior producer Stephanie Ha

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