Bloomberg Law
March 24, 2023, 5:31 PM

Canada Can Deny Asylum Seekers That Cross Shared Border, US Says

Courtney Rozen
Courtney Rozen

Canada will be able to turn back asylum seekers who illegally enter the country from unofficial crossing points in the US, the Biden administration announced Friday.

Individuals who cross the US-Canada border in either direction generally must apply for asylum in whichever of the two countries they first arrive after leaving their homeland.

But that only applies to official border crossings, such as an airport. People who cross by foot at any point along the US-Canada border had not been governed by that deal.

The announcement, detailed in a notice published Friday, changes that policy.

The new rule takes effect Saturday morning. Details of the agreement began to emerge Thursday night.

The Biden administration made the announcement the same day Biden is visiting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Unauthorized border crossings have received growing attention in Canada, putting pressure on Trudeau to reach a new pact with the US.

The new system builds on the Biden administration’s strategy for handling an increase in migrants crossing the southern US border. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in January announced that migrants from Cuba, Venezuela, Haiti, and Nicaragua who obtain sponsors can apply for temporary shelter in the US. The administration designed the effort, paired with stricter consequences for migrants who try to illegally enter the US, to alleviate pressure on immigration officials at the southwest border.

More than 22,500 people from the four countries arrived in the US via Biden’s new pathway between in February, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

To contact the reporter on this story: Courtney Rozen in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Bernie Kohn at; John P. Martin at; Sarah Babbage at

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