By Steve Scherer and Anna Mehler Paperny
OTTAWA/TORONTO (Reuters) -The United States and Canada reached a deal aimed at stopping asylum seekers entering the shared land border via unofficial crossings, but the two sides still need to iron out details when they meet, a Canadian government source familiar with the talks told Reuters on Thursday.
The revised Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) will be discussed on Friday at the meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa, with the official announcement likely afterward.
Trudeau has been under pressure to stop the flow of asylum seekers in Quebec, the mainly French-speaking province where he holds his parliamentary seat.
Biden arrived in Canada on Thursday on his long-delayed visit to express unity on Ukraine, and will address Parliament on Friday with Trudeau.
Border crossings between the two countries are governed by STCA, which allows U.S. and Canadian officials to turn back asylum seekers in both directions at formal ports of entry, but does not apply to unofficial crossings like Quebec’s Roxham Road.
Roxham Road, a dirt path that has become a route of choice for asylum-seekers, made international headlines in 2017 soon after former U.S. President Donald Trump started to crack down on illegal migrants, resulting in a huge inflow of asylum seekers into Canada.
U.S. and Canada share the longest land border in North America and the new agreement would expand the pact so that it applies to the entire length and asylum seekers apprehended using unofficial crossings will be turned back.
As part of the deal, Ottawa has agreed to resettle an as-yet undisclosed number of refugees, but the source cautioned that these details that had yet to be agreed.
Canada has been pushing the United States to extend the deal for a while. In recent months, there has been a sharp increase in asylum seekers entering Canada through unofficial border crossings.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security did not respond to requests for comment.
Trudeau’s office did not respond to a request for comment about the deal on the border crossing.
Speaking with reporters on Wednesday, Trudeau said the U.S. and Canadian governments had been working to resolve the “complex” issue of irregular border crossings for many months and that he hoped to make an announcement about it soon.
(Reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny in Toronto, Ismail Shakil and Steve Scherer in Ottawa; Editing by Sandra Maler and Diane Craft)
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Source: The Print