U.S. no longer wants troops near Canadian border, PM says
OTTAWA -- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says that the U.S. government has dropped the idea of placing American troops near the Canada-U.S. border.
U.S. President Donald Trump's White House had been 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.
Trudeau said Wednesday that the idea of militarizing the Canada-U.S. border is no longer in play.
"We have heard that that is not something they’re continuing to pursue, but we will of course continue to engage with the American administration as new situations come up and as things develop," Trudeau said at a press conference outside Rideau Cottage, where he is staying in self-isolation.
The prime minister added that there is an ongoing conversation with the American administration on a "broad range of subjects."
Canadian politicians had been vocal in their opposition when the reports first emerged about the potential militarization of the Canada-U.S. border. Trudeau had said that the U.S. following through with the proposal would be a "mistake," and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland had said that Canada was "strongly opposed to the idea."
"We have made that opposition very, very clear to our American counterparts and we will continue to do so," Freeland said at the time.
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 borders with the U.S., shutting them to all non-essential travel. Trudeau has said the situation at the border is one that the government "will continue to adjust” as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds.