Canada has opened the border between the United States and Quebec to allow asylum seekers fleeing the United States border without official status to enter Canada. The border was closed to asylum seekers in January to prevent the people from slipping into the country without immigration status. The move comes as two new pandemics could force the border open for at least a temporary period.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale announced on Sunday that border officials will resume regular border crossings. He said that federal police services will have instructions on Monday allowing asylum seekers to pass, but that they would still have to pass formal entry inspections in French and Spanish, according to CNN.
Goodale also stressed that Canada will not open its borders for those seeking to cross the border for economic purposes in a way that is considered to be a “pull factor.”
The decision was supported by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Goodale added that they would also “continue to be very cautious and circumspect” about the Pandemic Influenza and the Coronavirus.
There are roughly 6,000 asylum seekers attempting to cross into Canada through the Quebec border every year. Some people were surprised to learn the border reopened after 19 months.
Sandra Lavigne, spokesperson for the Ministry of Public Safety, tweeted: “Border officials may enter as volunteers this week to welcome, protect and assist a small number of asylum seekers at a certain point along the border. They will need to demonstrate that they have a genuine concern that they will get killed, or be physically harmed, if they are turned away from Canada.”
During the open border policy, about 600 asylum seekers broke through, including women and children. Last week, a man from Afghanistan was stabbed to death near an illegal border crossing near Quebec.
It is not known when the border will reopen permanently.