Canada's government is signaling plans to crack down on the relatively unimpeded flow of asylum seekers into the country — and is asking the United States to help, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.
The Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made a formal request to the United States to amend a 15-year-old border treaty between the countries. A spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department declined to provide details.
But the idea behind the Safe Third Country Agreement is Canada and the United States are equally open to refugees, and under terms of the pact, asylum seekers who try to enter Canada at an official border crossing are sent back to the United States.
The loophole, however, is those who cross the border at an unauthorized point of entry can proceed into Canada and file their claim, the Post reported.
A spokeswoman for Bill Blair, Canada's minister of border security and organized crime reduction, said he hopes a renegotiated treaty will "encourage people to cross at regular points of entry to maintain the security and the integrity of our borders."
The Trudeau government is also proposing changes that would prevent individuals who have filed asylum claims in other countries from filing a claim in Canada.
"Irregular" entries, as Canada calls them, have increased, with about 40,000 people coming through unauthorized crossings in the past two years, the Post reported, adding the entries are of Haitians, Nigerians, and, increasingly, Venezuelans and Colombians. Many enter the United States on tourist visas with plans to then cross into Canada, the Post reported.
But there has been a backlash, the Post reported — and Conservative leader Andrew Scheer blames Trudeau's government for the increase.
"Immigration has become a highly politicized issue where it wasn't really a partisan issue at all," Naomi Alboim, a former Ontario deputy minister for immigration who now teaches Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, told the Post.
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