ST. The immigration deal expected to be announced Friday by U.S. President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would end a process that has enabled tens of thousands of immigrants from across the world to move between the two countries along a back road between New York state and Quebec.
Since early 2017, these migrants have entered Canada via Roxham Road outside Champlain, New York, where a reception center staffed by agents of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police has been set up to process them, about five miles (8 kilometers) from the official border crossing where they’d be returned to the United States.
The Mounties warn that they’ll be arrested if they take one more step. Then they do — and without being handcuffed, they are processed and usually released to live in Canada while their asylum cases are pending, which can take years.
Trudeau’s government is expected to announce as part of the agreement that 15,000 migrants from the Western Hemisphere will be given slots to apply to enter Canada. The policy applies to people without U.S. or Canadian citizenship who are caught within 14 days of crossing the border, and will enable both countries to turn away asylum seekers at their borders, according Canadian officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the deal before it was formally announced.
The deal comes as the U.S. Border Patrol also responds to a steep increase in illegal southbound crossings along the wide-open Canadian border. Nearly all happen between the biggest population centers in both countries, from Quebec into upstate New York and Vermont.
While the numbers are still tiny compared to the U.S.-Mexico border, it’s happening so frequently now that the Border Patrol increased its staffing in the region and has begun releasing some migrants into Vermont with a future date to appear before immigration authorities.