Just before midnight on Nov. 27, the Canadian government said it would be ending a practice that’s drawn complaints from U.S. officials, news outlets and other nations.
Covid-19, or “point-of-entry regulations,” applies to certain people who seek asylum in Canada, according to the Canadian Press. They must cross into Canada at a designated entry point within seven days of arriving.
“We recognize these changes are inconvenient for people hoping to claim asylum, but it’s only because we made the right decision for our country and for our people to not harm vulnerable populations with tragic consequences,” Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said in a statement.
Under the policy, those arriving outside a designated area were to be turned away and forced to make a second trip to claim asylum at a designated location. According to the Canadian Press, the policy was used as part of a larger screening process before a person could be granted asylum.
“The people of this country should never have to make a split-second decision in desperate circumstances, and I know that they do not wish to punish their neighbors for making those decisions,” Goodale said.
The federal government acknowledged U.S. officials wanted to relieve border officials of having to handle the people, and created a new nationwide policy effective Jan. 1, the Canadian Press reported. The country said it will close the policy to new arrivals starting Dec. 31.
That’s about eight months after Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen announced a new policy that made asylum-seekers who arrived by land in Quebec — an area of the country which is difficult to cross into from the U.S. — wait two weeks before being allowed to claim asylum. The wait time, which began in mid-July, was later doubled to six weeks, according to the Canadian Press.
“While apprehensions by the border patrol and CBSA border guards at the United States border under this policy have been going down consistently for over the past couple of years, we know that people are still arriving in Canada at remote border crossings. During this period, these individuals are delayed in securing admission to Canada, forcing some to make a second trip to claim asylum,” Hussen said.