Legault demands immediate closure of Roxham Road

(Quebec) Prime Minister François Legault asks Justin Trudeau to immediately close Roxham Road, a “sieve” that allows the entry of “more than 100 migrants a day”, which he deems unacceptable.

Posted at 10:30am
Updated at 2:32 PM

Charles Lecavalier

Charles Lecavalier
The press

“We are clearly asking the federal government, Justin Trudeau, to close Roxham Road as it becomes impossible to manage the number of people arriving there. We cannot continue like this,” Mr Legault said at a press conference on Wednesday.

A marked increase in the number of migrants making daily use of Roxham Road, described as a “sieve” by Immigration Minister Jean Boulet, is forcing him to take this exit today, he said.

“Currently, more than 100 migrants come in every day. If you make a rule of three, that means more than 36,000 migrants a year. It is unacceptable, it is impossible. We don’t have that capacity,” said Mr. legal.

He laments that a “large proportion” of the migrants who take the Roxham Road “are not refugees”, but that the federal government’s processing time – more than 14 months – is delaying their deportation from the country too much. During this time, the Quebec government must “provide services, accommodate them, send the children to school,” laments Mr. Legault. “Our capacity is not unlimited. All of a sudden 36,000 people are added every year. The federal government must take responsibility,” he said.

Quebec’s request remained a dead letter. “We will always continue to respect the principles of our immigration system, a rigorous system that will continue to do its job,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau replied simply before storming into the House of Commons.

The federal government already provides financial support to Quebec through the Intermittent Housing Program. “We are still cooperating with the Legault government,” said Federal Public Security Minister Marco Mendicino. “I know there is progress with the resources we would deploy at this particular point at the border. †

He also recalled that negotiations are underway between Canada and the United States to review the Safe Third Country Agreement, which encourages asylum seekers to take Roxham Road to enter the country. “We are talking about a strategy to defend the rights of refugees, but at the same time to protect everyone in Quebec,” Mendicino said. It’s a balance, but it’s very important. †

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PHOTOGRAPH JACQUES BOISSINOT, CANADIAN PRESS ARCHIVES

John Boulet

Minister Boulet continued. 13,000 migrants have crossed the border since the reopening of Roxham Road. Of those, 10,800 receive benefits, he noted. He also attacks the federal government, which is delaying the offer of a work permit – an average of 11 months. This massive influx of people is also putting pressure on housing, the minister explains. “They benefit from temporary housing for 15 days on average; 75% live here. And so, after the 15 days, there is pressure on public employment services, on housing, on health services, social services, school,” he summed up.

mr. Boulet confirmed Quebec is open to humanitarian reception, but in an “orderly and legal” manner.

At the request to close Roxham Road, the Coalition avenir Québec will have at least one ally: the Parti Québécois. Its leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon also makes this request, saying it is a “bad move by the federal government that is deliberately trying to create disorder on our borders”.

“It is perfectly legitimate for Quebec to say there is a smarter and more respectful way for our society to plan asylum applications,” explained Mr St-Pierre Plamondon. He believes that the road should be closed until the agreement on safe third countries is renegotiated.

However, he accuses the CAQ of a double play and of “disloyalty” by claiming on the one hand that the current situation is “unacceptable”, then signing a 50 million contract for a period of 10 years to accommodate asylum seekers passing through Roxham. , as revealed by Radio-Canada.

Although Quebec’s Conservative Party leader Éric Duhaime is calling for “to close this rift”, MP Claire Samson expressed doubts about the permanent closure of Roxham Road. She sees it more as a “temporary” solution.

“What are people going to do? Climb a fence, find another hole? What is his solution? ‘ she said on Wednesday at the exit of the blue Salon.

humanitarian

The other two opposition parties in the National Assembly, the Liberal Party and Québec Solidaire, oppose the closure of Roxham Road.

Liberal deputy Carlos Leitão says it would be “counterproductive” from a “humanitarian” point of view to close this road. “We close it and then? We’re just moving the problem elsewhere,” he says.

“These people will find another way to cross the border. A summer can be fine, in the sense that the risks are lower. But what will happen in the future, for example in the winter? When does it become a risk to human life? Above all, I recommend that, together with the Americans, we implement a mechanism to regularize the border crossings,” said Leitão.

“It is a call for a debate based on facts. Based, yes, on humanism, but also on pragmatism. Closing off Roxham Road won’t solve anything. It causes people to take even more difficult paths. That is our message this morning,” said QS MP Gabriel-Nadeau Dubois.

Nadeau-Dubois believes Quebec should learn to deal with the arrival of refugee flows “without falling into simplistic solutions and intellectual shortcuts”. “We are currently dealing with a lot of instability on a global level. Today there is war in Ukraine. There are refugees on the planet. And we are heading for a climate crisis that will generate tens and tens of millions of climate refugees. Saying: we’re going to close a path, that won’t solve any problem. It distracts us from an intelligent and pragmatic solution to these problems,” he lamented.

Under the Safe Third Country Agreement, which came into effect in 2004, Canada and the United States recognize each other as “safe places” to seek refuge and protection. In practice, this means that Canada can refuse a potential refugee who arrives at land ports along the Canada-US border, because that refugee must submit his application for asylum in the United States of origin.

It was this agreement that led asylum seekers to take Roxham Road in Montérégie, as this passage is not an “official entry point”; Canada must therefore process their asylum application.

With Fanny Lévesque and Mylène Crete, The press and the Canadian press

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