If foreign policy were purely a matter of geography, one might assume that Canada would be free to check out the buffet at America’s summit this week, as surely as the migratory tide of floods at the US-Mexico border. will be taken. ,
But at the start of a turbulent new geopolitical era, there is increasing evidence that the US southern border – representing political and economic challenges and opportunities – is in many ways closer than most Canadians may feel.
And if President Joe Biden hopes to realize his vision of a comprehensive, holistic solution to the economic and social ills plaguing the Western Hemisphere, experts say he needs Canada to become an integral part of that conversation. will be required.
“Canada has a huge amount to contribute, because Canada is the country in the US that has come closest to getting immigration rights,” said Andrew Seely, president of the Migration Policy Institute, a Washington DC-based nonpartisan think tank. he said.
“There is much that the rest of America, including the United States, can learn from Canada.”
The idea behind the summit in Los Angeles, which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will begin on Wednesday, is to find a way to address some of the underlying political, economic and social causes of northward migration.
Not everyone will: The White House dropped Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba from the guest list because of their questionable record on human rights and disregard for democratic values. Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador vowed to abandon the summit in protest.
When asked about the decision, Trudeau deferred on Monday. However, Chilean President Gabriel Boric, who happened to be in Ottawa for a meeting with the prime minister, was not.
“We think it’s an error, a mistake, and we’re going to say that during the summit,” Boric said in Spanish. “However, we will not stop raising our voices to protect human rights and to condemn political prisoners and to show our concern about the migrant crisis.”
On the way, Trudeau will stop in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Tuesday, where he and Defense Secretary Anita Anand will meet with commanders and military officials of the joint-command continental defense system NORAD, which has long been awaiting the much-needed upgrade.
He will be joined in California by Environment Minister Steven Guillebault and Secretary of State Melanie Jolie, who are due to meet US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Mexican counterpart Marcelo Ebrard.
As a cornerstone of Canada’s economic development, federal immigration policy strikes a delicate balance between economic, humanitarian and labor-policy priorities, all while preserving public procurement to keep current political threats at bay, Seely. he said.
Those threats, which were weaponized by Donald Trump to great effect, are now greater than ever in North America, where the former president’s isolationist, build-the-wall rhetoric has proven so powerful that it has become standard Republicans. has become a theory.
And while the migration challenges at Canada’s southern border are less than those facing the US along the Rio Grande Valley, they are there – and they share a connection.
Despite separating Canada more than 2,300 kilometers from Mexico’s northern border, US customs officials in the north such as Maine have faced dozens of people entering the country from the south in recent months.
It is likely that many were headed to places such as Roxham Road, which is a popular destination for people wishing to make a refugee claim in Canada without returning to the US, which happens automatically when they reach an official entry point. appear on.
“It wouldn’t be a surprise that there are people coming from or through Latin America who really want to finally move to Canada,” Seely said.
“There are enough people in Canada who come from elsewhere in the US that it may become a more attractive destination over time, especially if the US is a less hospitable climate.”
“It’s been 28 years since the US hosted the inaugural summit in 1994, and we are clearly living in different times,” said Juan Gonzalez, senior director of the National Security Council for the Western Hemisphere.
For starters, Russia has invaded Ukraine, the lasting impact of the ongoing two-year pandemic continues, inflation is testing new records and many people on this side of the planet are “really starting to question the value of democracy.” are,” Gonzalez said.
Biden will propose what Gonzalez called a strategy of shared responsibility and economic support for the countries most affected by the flow of migration. It will also include a multilateral declaration “unity and resolve” to bring the crisis under control.
The leaders of “source, transit or destination countries” will seek consensus on how to deal with a problem “that is really affecting all countries in the US,” he said.
“We need to work together to address this in a way that treats migrants with respect, invests in creating opportunities that will prevent migrants from leaving their homes in the first place, and will provide security.”
The US Border Patrol calls this “push and pull” – the myriad factors that drive people around the world to abandon one country in favor of another, often as covertly as possible. Those motivations were muted during the COVID-19 pandemic, but not now.
Police stopped about 10,000 people entering Canada between official entry points during the first four months of the year, compared to just 3,944 during the same period of 2019. And last month alone, US Customs and Border Protection reported 9,157 encounters in or near the Canada- US border – seven times the 1,250 fears in April 2021.
Late last month, two Honduran citizens appeared in court in Montana to face human trafficking charges after they allegedly led a group of migrants into the country by crossing the Canada-US border.
Two US citizens are also facing similar charges in separate cases – one last month when a group of Indian nationals were rescued while trying to cross a river that separates Ontario from New York state, And one is linked to deaths in Minnesota in January. A family of four from India who died in cold conditions in Manitoba.
Agents in Maine have faced loads of illegal immigrants, including five Romanian nationals who recently entered from Canada. Two other separate incidents involved a total of 22 people, 14 from Mexico and seven from Ecuador, who entered the US through the southern border.
“There are a number of push-and-pull factors – that make people want to leave their country or come to another country for some reason,” said William Maddox, chief US Border Patrol agent for the Halton sector. Maine included.
He said human traffickers are always eager to take advantage of this desire. “Where these people see an opportunity to make a profit, that becomes their business. Whenever we change laws, there will be people who want to take advantage of those changes.”
Other summit priorities include helping countries get COVID-19 under control, building new ties on climate and energy initiatives, combating food insecurity and leveraging existing trade agreements to ensure more people benefit. Can pick up
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on June 6, 2022.