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Trudeau tells U.S. it would be a 'mistake' to put troops at Canadian border
OTTAWA -- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he has told the United States that it would be a "mistake" for them to position troops near the Canadian border.
"We have expressed to the United States that it would be a mistake to position troops near the Canadian border, and we certainly hope that they’re not going to go through with that," said Trudeau.
He said the talks surrounding "many issues" relating to the Canada-U.S. border are ongoing, and added that he will share more information when he has it.
Sources confirmed to CTV News on Thursday that U.S. President Donald Trump's White House is discussing the possibility of beefing up its military presence at the Canada-U.S. border, with the aim of assisting border guards in their attempts to catch irregular crossers.
The Wall Street Journal reported later that same day that the United States had dropped the proposal in reaction to Canada's concerns, though Trudeau did not confirm that to be the case when asked directly on Friday. Instead, the prime minister said the two countries "continue to engage closely" on issues relating to the border.
Since the idea first arose, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freehand has also been vocal in her opposition.
"Canada is strongly opposed to this U.S. proposal, and we have made that opposition very, very clear to our American counterparts and we will continue to do so," Freeland said in a press conference on Parliament Hill Thursday.
"At the end of the day, every country takes its own decisions, but ours is an important valued partnership and we are making very clear Canada's position."
While the U.S. administration had pitched the idea as a method of increasing apprehensions of irregular border crossers, the numbers indicate that irregular border crossings from Canada to the United States are not a frequent phenomenon.
According to a 2019 report from NBC News, data released from U.S. Customs and Border Protection showed 963 people were apprehended while crossing illegally from Canada to the United States in 2018. However, that was an uptick from 2017, when 504 people were apprehended illegally crossing the border into the U.S. from Canada.
Meanwhile, Canada faces a much higher rate of irregular border crossings from the United States. According to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, from February to December 2017, Canada received 18,059 refugee claims from irregular border crossers. In 2018, that number rose to 20,603.
Canada has tightened its border with the United States, closing it to all but essential travel. That means no more shopping or tourist trips between the two countries, but travel can continue when work-related or necessary for the transportation of goods.
Trudeau said on Thursday that the government "will continue to adjust" these measures as the situation unfolds.
"We will be continuing to follow the best advice of the scientific community on doing what is necessary to keep Canadians safe, as a priority," Trudeau said.