Asylum seekers crossing the US-Canada border illegally via Roxham Road are straining resources in Quebec and Ontario, but the governments of BC and Alberta say they currently have no plans to take in any of these border crossers.
The mayor of Niagara Falls, ON has stated his city is overwhelmed after accepting nearly 3,000 relocated asylum seekers, who are living in hotel rooms paid for by the federal government.
In addition, according to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, 702 asylum seekers have been bussed from Quebec into Ottawa, 618 to Windsor, Ontario, and 1,396 to Cornwall, Ontario. Furthermore, transfers to the Maritimes have just begun – 63 asylum seekers are now in Halifax, Nova Scotia and 30 are in Fredericton, New Brunswick.
These asylum seekers were transported to Ontario and Atlantic Canada after Quebec premier François Legault told Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that his province cannot support any more border crossers.
Quebec is spending $20 million per month on asylum seekers’ social benefits, the province says. In the year 2022, nearly 38,000 asylum seekers were receiving welfare cheques from the province of Quebec, most residing in Montreal.
Communities hosting Roxham Road border crossers are seeing their food banks, schools, shelters, and other social services overextended.
Garrett Koehler, Alberta’s Press Secretary in Trade and Multiculturalism, said, “Decisions around accepting asylum claims lie solely with the federal government and Alberta does not currently have any arrangement or agreement in place with the Federal Government that would facilitate individuals who crossed the border at unofficial border crossings being transported to Alberta.”
As for British Columbia, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Municipal Affairs stated, “The Province is not aware of any asylum seekers from Roxham Road being transferred to B.C.”
The federal government, and the governments of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, would not confirm if any asylum seekers would be relocated to Saskatchewan or Manitoba.
In the month of January 2023, the RCMP intercepted 4,875 illegal border crossings in Quebec – most, if not all, at Roxham Road.
The US-Mexico border has thousands of Latin Americans crossing per day, some of whom make their way up to the New York-Quebec border and cross at Roxham Road to take advantage of a loophole in the Safe Third Country Agreement. These individuals are arrested upon entering Canada at an illegal point of entry but quickly released once they state they are claiming asylum, at which point they are transported to a temporary accommodation and assisted with their living expenses and paperwork.
The mayor of New York City, Eric Adams, has given free bus tickets to migrants so that they can make their way to upstate New York and cross into Canada via Roxham Road.