Canada decides to stop detaining asylum-seekers trying to cross the border from the U.S.

“We always speak of integrity, of integrity of our borders,” said India Trudeau, wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, during a press conference on Friday.

The Canadian government announced on Friday that it is no longer seizing the identity documents of asylum-seekers trying to cross the border at official land crossings. From now on, any asylum-seekers with documents they can prove are valid will not be detained, and will only be returned once their claims have been processed.

Since January, Canada has detained more than 4,000 asylum-seekers after entering Canada at land crossings. In the same time period, 50,000 asylum-seekers entered Canada illegally from the United States through unofficial border crossings that are not marked, such as railway tracks or backcountry paths.

“We have received hundreds of messages on the issue, and it has been a concern of many of Canadians — of the border, of asylum-seekers and of border security,” said Jean-Christophe de Le Rue, a spokesman for Canada’s Department of Border Services. “And there’s been concern over the practice of using their temporary resident cards and national identification cards to identify people on those Canadian soil where we don’t have a proper border.”

Trudeau called the new policy “very progressive,” the Guardian reported.

The new policy will not apply to asylum-seekers who cross the border between official land crossings — the new policy applies to them. However, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Ralph Goodale, noted that the new policy will apply to asylum-seekers who “dare to take that last step, the final step of crossing the border illegally.”

Trudeau also noted that currently there are “no numbers” of asylum-seekers who have “dared to take that final step” to cross through unofficial border crossings.

Canada’s new policy, known as the “summerlong provisional protected class program,” was issued under federal law on Wednesday. Under the policy, the federal government will provide temporary protection to any asylum-seekers who cross Canada’s border before May 1, 2019. All border-crossers will be allowed to file their refugee claims there instead of having to wait months for those claims to be processed in Canada.

Those who cross illegally will be granted the opportunity to see a lawyer and be screened by Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) officers, according to the policy. Those who are considered to be in need of immediate protection will be referred to the Immigration Court.

The federal government has not promised to help pay for the refugee costs, which have reached an estimated $600 million.

Canada’s Prime Minister has been receiving flak for the nation’s decision to turn away asylum-seekers from the United States in an effort to deter illegal border crossings. The Trump administration, meanwhile, has come under fire for enacting policies that discourage asylum-seekers from entering the country.

Read the full story at The Guardian.


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