Asylum seekers and commentary

Given the ongoing and continuing issue, this National Post basics article is helpful in understanding the trends although point 5 (government response) overstates the effectiveness of the government response even if there are no easy solutions:

The number of illegal border crossings is up significantly this year compared with the same period last year, so federal and law enforcement officials have been preparing for possibility of another spike as the weather warms up.

Departmental, RCMP and border officials provided a technical briefing this week on the plans they have developed as a result of lessons learned from pressures and concerns arising from last year’s spike in irregular migrants coming across the Canada-U.S. border.

Here’s what was learned:

1. The numbers are trending upward. Last year, RCMP intercepted a total of 20,493 people who crossed the border illegally. That means they did not present at an official port-of-entry and instead came across the border through unofficial paths to make a refugee claim in Canada. So far this year, 6,373 irregular migrants have arrived in Canada this way. That’s an increase of 128 per cent over the number who arrived in Canada between January and April 2017, which was 2,784.

2. Quebec is the hotspot. Of the 6,373 border crossers that have arrived so far in 2018, the majority — 5,609 — have done so in Quebec. However, about 40 per cent of say they are planning to settle elsewhere in Canada, mainly in Ontario. That’s why Quebec and the federal government are working on a plan to try to encourage asylum seekers away from highly saturated areas like Montreal and Toronto, in the hopes they might instead settle in outlying regions of the two provinces where labour shortages exist and migrants could find more employment opportunities.

3. Housing remains a question mark. Quebec has told the feds it will only open four temporary shelters for refugee claimants this year, with a total of 1,850 spaces. The province says it will not open Olympic Stadium or the nine other temporary shelters it operated last year for migrants because these were spaces not intended for accommodations, such as school gymnasiums. That’s why Ottawa is now working with Quebec and Ontario on processes that could be used to triage asylum seekers from the unofficial entry point in Lacolle to other shelters in those provinces.

4. Countries of origin are shifting. Last year, the majority of irregular migrants who arrived in Canada were Haitian, which is largely attributed to the Trump administration’s decision to lift the temporary protected status for immigrants from Haiti living the U.S. This year, the majority of illegal migrants in Canada are Nigerians with U.S. travel visas. Other countries of origin this year include: Columbia, the United States and Pakistan.

5. Lessons have been learned. After last summer’s unexpected influx caused some major headaches, a national strategic plan has been put in place to respond to any future spikes. It was described by a senior official as “collaborative, flexible, scalable and phased.” It allows for increased resources to be brought into an area quickly, as needed. It is designed to move asylum seekers through the system in a timely manner while also ensuring all of Canada’s rules for refugee claimants are properly followed. That being said, Ottawa continues to try to get the message out that entering Canada between ports of entry is “not a free ticket” into Canada.

Source: What you need to know about the ongoing influx of asylum seekers in Canada 

Good commentary by Ibbitson, highlighting that this is one of the three key political challenges facing the government (the other two being NAFTA and pipelines):

A third challenge is emerging, on the border. Last year, more than 20,000 people crossed from the United States into Canada by avoiding regular crossing points. Thanks to a legal loophole, by committing this illegal act, they stood a better chance of being accepted as refugees than if they showed up at a proper crossing. Mr. Trudeau may have worsened the situation when he tweeted in January, 2017: “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada.” It seemed like an open invitation to those fleeing the deportation efforts of the Trump administration.

If the past three months are any indication, the number of illegal crossers could more than double this year, beyond 40,000, putting the entire immigration and refugee system at risk. We could have more people flooding across the border illegally than arrive legally each year from the Philippines, Canada’s largest source country of immigrants. If the Liberals can’t find a way to stem this flow, voters will punish them.

Source: Trudeau must win three fights, or he could lose to Stephen Harper 2.0  

Australia PM makes the point effectively:

“So we know what works and what doesn’t. Migration programs, a multicultural society, need to have a commitment, an understanding and the trust of the people, that the government, their government, is determining who comes to the country,” he said.

“So being in control of your borders is absolutely critical. I think that is a fundamental foundation of our success as a multicultural society, as a migration nation as people often describe us.

“You have to exert your sovereign right to control your own borders.” 

Source: Border control is key to successful multiculturalism: Malcolm Turnbull 

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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