‘The situation is an emergency’: Protest to reopen Roxham Road border crossing

“It's just going to push people to more dangerous migration paths,” says Ryan Faulkner, part of Solidarity Across Borders, on the Canadian government’s decision to close Roxham Road to migrants and asylum seekers. Diona Macalinga reports.

Protesters demanding the Roxham Road border crossing south of Montreal remain open demonstrated outside Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office Wednesday morning.

Demonstrators held colourful signs and banners outside the building on Crémazie Street to denounce the deal between Canada and the United States to close the unofficial border crossing.

The border officially closed at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday.

Advocates say speed with which the border crossing was closed has left asylum seekers stranded.

They also claim asylum seekers will now take more dangerous routes to enter Canada because of the closure.

“The border does not need to be closed,” said Ryan Faulkner with Solidarity Across Border. “It’s just going to push people to more dangerous migration paths. I’m afraid of seeing something akin to what we see in the Mediterranean with people suddenly having to cross on boats in order to reach a safe place to settle and claim asylum.

“The situation is an emergency. This is a decision which is going to lead to unnecessary deaths and unnecessary misery.”

Canada and the United Stated implemented changes to the Safe Third Country Agreement on March 25.

The Canadian Council for Refugees says it may leave asylum seekers at risk of unlawful detention, persecution, and death.

“It’s the Trudeau government which decided to extend the Safe Third Country Agreement and close the border, to close Roxham Road,” said Faulkner. “It’s equally within his power to abolish the STCA, which would be the humane decision to do.

“We’re asking for a safe and dignified routes for asylum seekers to come into the country. Overall, we’re just asking Canada to respect its international obligations and its moral obligations to help those in need.”

The Canadian Border Services Agency tells CityNews in an email that “it is illegal to enter between ports of entry and it is not safe. We encourage asylum seekers to cross the border at designated ports of entry. The Safe Third Country Agreement now applies to the entire land border.”

The CBSA’s data show since the closures of illegal crossings across the country – as of March 28 at noon – 53 cases have been processed: 27 claimants have been returned to the U.S. and 26 were deemed eligible to make an asylum claim in Canada.

“The migrants are going to come,” said advocate Hélène Bissonnette. “They are coming. The question is not ‘Are we going to have more or less migrants?’ The question is, ‘Are they going to be safe when they arrive here?’ The question is: are they going to face danger? Is their life in danger? That’s the real question we should ask.”

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