The Trudeau government has approved a plan requested by Quebec to ship asylum claimants who illegally cross into Canada via Roxham Road into Ontario cities such as Niagara Falls and Ottawa.
Quebec authorities have pleaded with Ottawa in recent months to alleviate the stress the influx of migrants has caused for the province.
The controversial illegal crossing point is an unauthorized entry point into the province from the United States. Tens of thousands of migrants have crossed into Canada illegally at the location since the Canada-US border was reopened in November.
Until now, most crossers have been processed within Quebec after claiming asylum or refugee status Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) offices.
The IRCC recently said that a small “number of (claimants who) do not intend to stay in Quebec” are being transferred into Ontario as of Jun. 30.
“IRCC is working with the City of Ottawa and the Municipality of Niagara Falls to help refugee claimants find alternative housing and access the community supports available to them,” said IRCC spokesperson Julie Lafortune.
Soon after the illegal border crossings began in 2017, the federal government devoted half a billion dollars to help Quebec house asylum claimants.
The government of Quebec is now requesting more help, claiming that the province does not have the services or capacity readily available to take in such a large quantity of migrants.
In the first five months of this year, between January and May a record number of 13,000 illegal border crossings took place.
Quebec MP Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe recently grilled Liberal minister of immigration Sean Fraser to ask why a quarter of RCMP officers are acting as chaperones for illegal border crossings.
“We have been told that a quarter of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, or RCMP, officers deployed in Quebec are managing the Roxham Road instead of dealing with gun trafficking at the border,” said Brunelle-Duceppe. “Minister, when will you ensure that the safe third country agreement is suspended?”
“It’s essential, when we look at our domestic and international legal obligations, that we don’t ignore the responsibility we have to enforce those laws. I expect what you’re getting to is the engagement of the RCMP who may be involved with processing people who have crossed the border and claimed asylum,” said Fraser.