Roxham Road: 300 Migrants Redirected Elsewhere in Canada: Quebec Says

The Canadian Press

The Canadian Press Tuesday, February 14th 2023

Nearly 400 migrants who passed through Roxham Road on Saturday and Sunday were redirected to other Canadian provinces, Quebec Immigration Minister Christine Fréchette said Tuesday.

"We are starting to see results," she said in a press scrum. "We're very happy with that, we hope it will continue over time and that this will be the new approach to border management."

François Legault's government has been hammering away for months that Quebec's capacity to receive immigrants has been reached and even exceeded.

On Tuesday, Fréchette said only eight of the roughly 380 asylum seekers who passed through Roxham Road last weekend remained in Quebec.

The rest were redirected to Ontario, among other places, where the federal government had reserved a block of 500 hotel rooms, she said. "This is something that helps in Quebec," she said.

"There was significant pressure that was put on our government programs and also on the host organizations," she added.


For his part, Premier Legault pleaded Tuesday for changes to the Safe Third Country Agreement with the U.S. ambassador to Canada.

Legault met with David L. Cohen late Tuesday morning in his Executive Council office in Quebec City.

"I said to him, 'I don't understand why it's taking this long to settle with the United States. What we're asking is that the Safe Third Country Agreement be applied to all ports of entry, including Roxham."

The Safe Third Country Agreement ensures that a potential refugee who arrives at an official Canadian border crossing and has first set foot on U.S. soil is turned away, as he or she must pursue a refugee claim in the first "safe place" in which he or she arrived.

As a result, people who still want to claim asylum in Canada cross the Canada-U.S. border through irregular crossings, such as Roxham Road. Once they are in Canada, their asylum claims can be processed.

The interview was closed to the media, but the ambassador later issued a message via Twitter. He said he discussed advancing common goals of Canada and the United States, including green energy and trade. But Cohen also said the Prime Minister had pushed for an overhaul of the Safe Third Country Agreement.

Late in the day, the federal Liberal government urged caution on the issue.

"There are people ... who are suffering, who are leaving very difficult situations to come to us," said the Liberal lieutenant for Quebec, Pablo Rodriguez.