Canada is trying to curb the number of asylum seekers from Nigeria who are flooding into Canada through the United States, officials said.
About 2,500 migrants, mostly Nigerian nationals, entered Canada illegally in April.
They crossed on foot along a forest trail from New York State to Quebec province, Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen told a news conference. Nigerian asylum seekers have been crossing into Canada at its southern border with the US in growing numbers.
Many were in the US with American visas before walking into Canada.
In the first three months of this year, over half the 5,052 asylum claims by those who crossed the border were Nigerian nationals, and most had valid US visas.
Federal Transportation Minister Marc Garneau said on Monday about 90% of all “irregular” border crossers do not meet the criteria for refugee status and will eventually be deported.
Avoiding an official border checkpoint lets migrants circumvent the Safe Third Country Agreement, an accord between the US and Canada that forces people to claim asylum in their first country of arrival.
The policy is meant to better manage refugee claims and to avoid “asylum shopping” between countries, but is also among the reasons asylum seekers are avoiding official border points.
In 2017, more than 20,500 migrants crossed illegally into Canada at the US border to seek asylum – about 40% of total claims.