By Chelsea Eakins, CNN
By Caroline Kelly, CNN Canada
(CNN) — Canada says it will no longer turn back asylum-seekers from arriving in the country and turning them over to US authorities.
Starting July 1, the government said people seeking asylum from other countries crossing into Canada will be allowed to be processed and whether they enter the country from the US or another border crossing.
The policy shift doesn’t apply to people already in Canada.
Canadian border officials had been turning asylum-seekers back to the US after admitting them to Canada and then sending them back over the US border, the country’s Immigration and Refugee Board said in a statement. It was unclear what became of the asylum-seekers once they reached the US.
“Such automatic turnbacks could only occur after the officer had made an assessment regarding whether the person would qualify for refugee protection in Canada,” the statement said.
Canada’s abrupt reopening of its border to asylum-seekers in January came after the Trump administration revoked temporary protected status for a large section of the Caribbean island of Haiti, leading thousands of Haitians to flee their country.
US Coast Guard officers then began turning away waves of migrants at airports and border crossings.
By mid-April, about 100,000 Haitians had entered Canada. Most were “safe country entrants,” a policy that allows people to enter Canada who do not have a criminal record, are legally in the country and don’t have ties to it.
Canadian authorities said that by the end of April, there were more than 7,000 people in total waiting in immigration detention for their claims.
Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen told reporters Monday that the first major challenge has been processing the refugees, so the aim now is to “continue to operate a free and orderly immigration system.”