A surge in illegal crossings from the United States has led to calls to shut down a rural road on the Canadian border.
Norimitsu Onishi reported from Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Quebec, and Cornwall, Ontario.
Hélène Gravel’s house sits on Roxham Road near Canada’s most famous illegal border crossing, used by migrants leaving the United States to seek asylum up north. She has watched with increasing frustration as a bitter winter has failed to stanch record inflows and as New York City even began buying bus tickets for migrants headed her way.
“There’s no political will to fix this,” Ms. Gravel, 77, said in her driveway, a stone’s throw from the border.
“Canada is soft,” she said, adding that asylum-seekers should be processed at official border crossings. “And the United States doesn’t care because this is nothing compared with what’s happening on their southern border.”
Though the numbers of migrants at the southern border of the United States are far higher, the numbers entering Canada are also surging.
Nearly 40,000 migrants crossed unlawfully into the country last year — more than double the number in 2019 — and the number arriving monthly has spiked recently, including almost 5,000 people in January.
Facing labor shortages, Canada is actually opening its doors much wider to legal migrants and recently committed itself to significantly raise the number of legal immigrants and accept 1.5 million newcomers by 2025.
But an extraordinary pandemic-era movement of migrants across the world, fueled by economic misery and growing insecurity in many countries, has put Canada in an unusual position.
Shielded by geography, strict immigration policies favoring the educated and skilled, and its single border with the United States, Canada is now being forced to deal with an issue that has long bedeviled other wealthy Western nations: mass illegal border crossings by land.
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