World Bulletin / News Desk
But Canadian officials are downplaying any change, saying there are no formal negotiations underway.
However, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) acknowledged in an email that it is studying a Canadian request to amend a border agreement with Canada.
“DHS is currently reviewing the proposal made by Canada to amend the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA), but we have no decision to announce at this time,” a DHS spokesperson said in an email reply to a media enquiry.
The STCA between Canada and the U.S. states that refugees must request protection from the first safe country in which they land so that there is no border hopping between the two countries. However, it applies only at traditional land border crossings, at airports or by train.
Refugees, spurred on by U.S. President Donald Trump’s anti-immigration policies, try crossing at remote, unguarded areas between the two borders. There they are arrested and held in detention centers while they wait for their refugee claims to be processed.
The opposition Conservative Party has suggested that the STCA be applied along the entire border.
But the suggestion was rejected by the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau because it would push refugees to even more remote points of crossing which are particularly dangerous in the freezing winter months.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said he is willing to talk with U.S. officials about changes to the 14-year-old STCA, but he rejected the DHS acknowledgement that a proposal has been put forth.
However, “there is a conversation about how we make our border, both ways, strong, effective and secure from the perspective of both countries,” Goodale told reporters.