TRENTON, Ont. (AA) – Canada and the U.S. agreed Friday to endeavor to make the border between the two countries “thinner” and “work well.”
John Kelly is the first member of U.S. President Donald Trump’s Cabinet members to visit Canada and he held a series of meetings with Canadian Cabinet members in the capital of Ottawa.
Canada has expressed concerns about the hundreds of asylum seekers fleeing the U.S. because of Trump’s controversial travel ban that targets six Muslim-majority nations and crossing into Canada, often in severe winter weather.
As well, Canadians with passports were supposed to be able to cross the border into the U.S. without hassles, but that has not been the case in practice.
The Canadian Press (CP) reported Friday that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government was engaging the Trump administration to “ensure that Canadian’s rights are respected and that we continue to have the smooth flow of goods, services and people back and forth across the border”.
Following sessions between Kelly and senior Cabinet ministers, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said several topics were discussed, including refugees who are a cause of worry for both countries.
They agreed to gather “hard facts” about the refugees crossing the border in Canada and Goodale said “the critical thing is to make sure that we have a complete and detailed picture on both sides of the border about what exactly is happening here,” the CP wire service reported. “Who are the people who are involved in this migration?”
Goodale said information on the refugees was being given to the Americans, but the vast majority of those crossing the border “are in the U.S. legally,” according to the National Observer, a Canadian online news site.
The meeting “proved to be extremely important and extremely valuable,” he said, as reported by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. “It covered everything from border issues to immigration concerns, to steel and pipe exports from Canada to the United States – it was a very broad-ranging discussion.
“I take a good deal of encouragement by the first remark that was made by Secretary Kelly as our first meeting began this morning, in which he simply said his objective is to find the ways to make the border thinner and to work well for both countries,” Goodale said.
Also discussed, but not elaborated on to the media, were counter terrorism and the fight against Daesh, the CBC reported.
Kelly did not take questions from reporters.
By Barry Ellsworth