Canada has reached an agreement with the United States to send back those who cross the border illegally to seek asylum.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Friday morning, hours before the Canada-United States border is slated to close for non-essential travel.
“Today, Canada and the United States are announcing a reciprocal arrangement where we will now be returning irregular migrants who attempt to cross anywhere at the Canada-US border,” Trudeau told reporters.
The directive is in effect only for those entering Canada illegally from this point forward. Those who came in prior to the announcement will be processed as normal, though they are supposed to be subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
This is a “temporary measure” that will be in effect as Canada grapples with COVID-19, Trudeau said.
On Wednesday Canada and the United States agreed to close their mutual border to non-essential travel effective Friday night. The decision will affect those crossing for tourism and pleasure.
The original announcement failed to place restrictions on illegal border crossers.
Earlier in the week, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair indicated illegal border crossers would continue to be accepted as they had been prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, though with added medical screening and mandatory quarantine.
As of Thursday, these quarantine measures were not yet in place, the government said.
The Customs and Immigration Union president said around 80 people illegally crossed into Canada at Roxham Rd. each day over the past week, up from 50 to 60 two weeks earlier.