More and more migrants entering the province are being sent elsewhere, claims Quebec’s immigration minister

Quebec Immigration Minister Christine Fréchette says she is encouraged that Ottawa is finally addressing the province's concerns.  (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press - photo credit)

Quebec Immigration Minister Christine Fréchette says she is encouraged that Ottawa is finally addressing the province’s concerns. (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press – photo credit)

Almost all asylum seekers who entered Canada via the Roxham Road last weekend have been sent elsewhere in the country, according to Quebec’s immigration minister – and Christine Fréchette says she hopes this will become the norm in the future.

In a brief meeting with reporters Thursday afternoon, Fréchette said of about 380 people who entered Quebec, only eight stayed in the province. The others were diverted to other parts of Canada, mostly Ontario.

Fréchette said it was a sign that Ottawa was finally listening to Quebec government concerns about the flow of asylum seekers entering the province through the irregular border crossing.

“We are very happy about it,” said Fréchette. “We hope that this will be maintained and that this will be the new approach to managing borders and asylum seekers.”

The minister said she could not provide any information on how the asylum seekers will be transported to other parts of Canada. Her spokesman later told CBC News that the federal government had reserved hundreds of hotel rooms.

On Parliament Hill, a reporter briefed Ahmed Hussen, Canada’s federal minister for diversity and inclusion, about Fréchette’s comments.

Hussen was asked if what happened at the border last weekend represented some sort of shift in how the influx of asylum seekers was being dealt with.

He downplayed the thought. “No, that has happened in the past,” Hussen said.

“There is coordination between the different provinces,” he said. “It depends on what services are available at the time and people will be redirected to the services that are available.”

Last year, about 40,000 people seeking asylum in Canada entered the country via Roxham Road. That number equates to about 42 percent of applicants in 2022.

Romain Schué/Radio Canada

Romain Schué/Radio Canada

Legault writes a letter to New York, meets with the US ambassador

Fréchette’s announcement comes as Quebec’s premier seeks dialogue with US officials about challenges at the border.

François Legault is calling on the Mayor of New York City to stop helping asylum seekers find their way to Roxham Road, an irregular border crossing where people can walk from the US to Quebec.

In a recent letter obtained by Radio-Canada, Legault Mayor Eric Adams called on “immediately” to put an end to “all forms of assistance” to people crossing the border where it is “strictly prohibited”.

Last week, a spokesman for the mayor’s office confirmed that the city is providing free bus tickets to people wanting to reach Plattsburgh, NY, which is about 30 minutes from Roxham Road.

The New York City spokesman said it was facing an “unprecedented” migrant crisis that had overwhelmed its resources.

“We understand that the situation of migrants in New York poses great challenges, but the situation in Quebec, particularly in Montreal, is unduly difficult,” Legault’s letter said.

On Tuesday, Legault met with David Cohen, the US Ambassador to Canada. During the meeting, the Prime Minister stressed the need to amend the Safe Third Countries Agreement.

The agreement signed between Canada and the United States in 2002 stipulates that migrants must apply for asylum in the first of the two countries they enter and cannot attempt a second attempt at an official border crossing.

It does not apply to irregular border crossings. For this reason, persons entering Canada via the Roxham Road cannot be turned away.

Legault said he told the ambassador he wanted the deal to apply to all border crossings, including irregular ones.

“I told him I didn’t understand it was taking so long to settle down [this] with the United States,” said the Prime Minister.


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