[Editor’s note: Content has been updated to reflect new information released by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.]
OTTAWA – Canada on Monday finally ended its controversial policy of turning back illegal migrants at the border.
Under previous policy, people who crossed the U.S. border illegally were turned away and kept in Mexican custody because officials were not convinced they would qualify for asylum in Canada. But not everyone was admitted to Canada, forcing a backlog in processing asylum claims.
Canada’s Conservative Party criticized the policy, saying it meant the country had no chance of obtaining U.S. asylum-seekers.
In early January, President Donald Trump addressed the issue in tweets, saying he wants U.S. citizens to cross the border “in an orderly fashion” and that it’s a law of the U.S. and a “tough situation.”
Canada is sending mixed messages about immigration. Our Immigration Minister/Border Guard apologizes to U.S. for illegal border crossing policy. Canada is arresting more U.S. citizens crossing illegally into our country. Canada wants to block refugees from entering the US by car. Which way is Canada going? — Erin O’Flaherty (@ErinOBeghan) January 26, 2018
On Friday, Canada’s Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said it was never Ottawa’s intention to block people from the U.S. from entering Canada by car.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said its policy remains the same: A person who enters the U.S. illegally by land or water at the southwest border is arrested by CBP and detained for possible transport into Mexican custody.
United States Ambassador Kelly said he welcomed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision to end the policy.
“This is a responsible move that we applaud,” Kelly said. “It is consistent with our request for Canada to apply a robust refugee protection system in light of the significant economic and strategic relationship between our two countries.”