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Blair mulling ways to close loophole in Safe Third Country Agreement

Federal Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction, Bill Blair speaks during a news conference in Vancouver, Tuesday, Jan 22, 2019. Blair says he is in discussion with lawmakers in the United States on ways to close a loophole in Canada's border agreement with the U.S. ??? a loophole largely seen as an incentive for asylum seekers to cross into Canada through non-official entry points. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

OTTAWA — Border Security Minister Bill Blair says he is talking to lawmakers in the United States about closing a loophole in Canada’s border agreement with the U.S. — one seen as giving asylum-seekers reason to cross into Canada through fields and forests.

The Safe Third Country Agreement says asylum seekers cannot claim refugee protection in Canada if they arrive at an official border checkpoint from a country that is considered safe, like the United States.

But they can claim refugee status from inside Canada.

That’s why tens of thousands of asylum seekers have been crossing into Canada on foot through fields and forests.

One idea is to apply the agreement to those who cross irregularly when it is clear they have crossed into Canada from the U.S., or vice-versa.

Blair says extending the agreement to include irregular border-crossers could help eliminate the incentive that has led to over 40,000 irregular border crossers coming into Canada since 2017.

The Canadian Press

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