Asylum seekers to be turned back at U.S. border, prime minister says

Asylum seekers cross the border from New York into Canada at Roxham Road Wednesday, March 18,, 2020 in Hemmingford, Que.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

OTTAWA  Asylum seekers crossing into Canada on foot from the U.S. will be turned back as part of the border shutdown between the two countries.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement hours before the closure to all but essential travel is to go into effect.

The Liberal government had previously been planning to place the border crossers into mandatory self-isolation.

That plan had come after calls from the Quebec government for the federal government to ensure those crossing irregularly into Canada would follow the same isolation protocols as other international travellers.

Trudeau says the move to instead turn them away is an exceptional measure to protect Canadian citizens and it is temporary.

Thousands of people have been crossing into Canada from the U.S. for at least three years using unofficial entry points to get around a deal that forbids people from lodging asylum claims at land border crossings.