From the dawn of the epidemic until November 21, Chemin Roxham in Montérégie has changed again, as it has for many years: a cool-de-sac that ends just before the invisible border that divides the United States into Canada.
We did not talk about it. We forgot about it. This crossroads, used by tens of thousands of people from 2017 to March 2020, has been completely inaccessible to immigrants for more than 20 months.
There, within a month, this little country road turned like a boomerang in political discourse because more than 2,000 people took it in hopes of seeking asylum in Canada. About 100 people a day.
Quebec Immigration Minister Jean Boulet allowed a ridiculous tweet on Monday evening after forgetting everything about Roxham Road. He called on Justin Trudeau to “close the way” and “we must mobilize before the escalation of the COVID-19 cases”. [liée à Omicron] So our health system should not be overloaded ”. It’s just like the cross-border chat variation.
The CAQ government had to quickly admit that the crossroads was terrible and that no explosion was linked to the arrival of immigrants. Jean Powell lamented that his tweet was “not optimal” for “human quality”.
The saddest thing about this is that the Minister has completely ignored the exceptional link between Kemin Roxham and the epidemic in Quebec.
Do you remember the much talked about guardian angels during the first wave of epidemics? These asylum seekers have projected themselves in CHSLDs and hospitals, where do they come from, do you think? Here it is, on Roxham Road!
“In recognition of their exceptional contribution” – these are the words of the government, not mine – the plan is to allow these guardian angels to gain their permanent residence in the country. In Quebec, at least 3,000 people used it, and if the Legault government had accepted that security guards and maintenance personnel would also come under the scheme, they would have been in greater numbers.
So instead of closing the road to Roxham, it would be better to rename it “Angels’ Way” so as not to suffer from amnesia again.
Speaking of amnesia, this epidemic seems to make us forget that we do not live on an island. The world will continue to change as we fight against the corona virus and its many variants.
Wars, organized crime, and persecution have not been abandoned. Our international obligations – Canada voluntarily entered – were not suspended.
Before we can shout that Roxham Road has become a “sieve” and that “the flow of immigrants” is “unbearable”, we should probably refresh our memories.
Despite the epidemic that has made international travel a dream come true, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that there are still large numbers of refugees in the world today. We are talking about 26 million people. Of that number, 39% are found in only five countries: Turkey, Colombia, Uganda, Pakistan and Germany.
Our neighbor in the south alone has received 1.2 million asylum applications in the first six months of 2021. Unheard of. Here in Canada, the trend is quite the opposite. Fewer asylum seekers have been able to reach our home since the start of Govt-19.
In 2019, the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) received more than 58,000 cases, down from 18,500 in 2020 and 16,058 between January and September 2021.
What about Roxham Road and other intersections? Between April 2020 and September 2021, 1,429 people applied for asylum in Canada illegally. In 2017 and 2018, they were over 34,000!
Despite 2000 visits in the last month, we are far from being overwhelmed by asylum claims! In addition, the IRB has the ability to read them within a reasonable time frame. The organization used the silence of epidemics to get rid of its outstanding amount.
So we need to think twice before withdrawing our door knockers from the US, where we face the fact that things are not going right. It was a little better than the time when Donald Trump was president.
Especially since we can open our doors wide with public health in mind. Asylum seekers these days can already be screened and isolated if not vaccinated. Like everyone who comes to the country.
That’s why Roxham Road should be open: it applies to asylum seekers and the state who are safe there, and can be constantly monitored.
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