May 8, 2018 – Canada’s immigration minister has indicated for the first time that he could support making changes to the Safe Third Country Agreement.
Many blame the controversial agreement for creating the conditions whereby thousands of people are streaming across the U.S.-Canada border at unrecognized checkpoints.
The latest available confirmed figures show more than 5,000 interceptions between legal border points were made in the first three months of 2018. March saw 1,970 RCMP interceptions, up from 1,565 in February and 1,517 in January.
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With the trend upwards and unconfirmed figures at more than 2,000 for April, there are fears the numbers will grow beyond those seen last summer when the rate reached as many as 300 per day.
The vast majority of asylum seekers are crossing into Quebec, with the federal government saying it plans to build temporary housing at the Lacolle crossing point to help deal with the influx.
Recently, the majority of border crossers have been Nigerian nationals, entering the United States on visitor visas, with Haitians dominating the 2017 numbers.
Hussen, plus Transport Minister Marc Garneau and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, issued an update on the situation on Monday.
Immigration.ca Managing Partner Colin Singer recently spoke to CBC News host Andrew Nichols concerning the border issue. You can watch the video here:
The update confirmed Canadian officials had been stationed to work with US visa officials in Lagos, while Hussen will travel to Nigeria in May to look at the situation.
Meanwhile, processing of work permits has been accelerated to ensure asylum seekers can support themselves while awaiting a decision on their cases. Since April 2017, more than 12,500 work permits have been approved for asylum claimants in Quebec.
Canada’s 2018 federal budget includes $173.2 million over two years aimed at strengthening border security and speeding up asylum claims.
Safe Third Country Agreement
There have been several calls for Canada to suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement with the U.S., which requires an asylum seeker to make their claim in the first country in which they arrive. The agreement is the reason why those coming from the U.S. are electing to cross the border at remote locations, with the aim of getting arrested and entering the Canadian immigration system.
Such individuals would otherwise not qualify to submit a claim as the Safe Third Country Agreement would prevent them from doing so.
RCMP 2018 Border Interceptions
|Total – RCMP||1,517||1,565||1,970||5,052|
Source: Government of Canada
Concern is centred around the more than 350,000 people expected to lose their Temporary Protected Status in the U.S. over the next 18 months, although these do not include Nigerians.
A Donald Trump crackdown will see Nicaraguans, Haitians and El Salvadorians face deportation in 2019 if they cannot secure permanent status. A decision is yet to be made on Hondurans.
Rather than be dealt with by the American system, many are flooding north to Canada to take their chances here.
The End of Temporary Protected Status
|Country||People affected||TPS end date|
|Nicaragua||5,300||January 5, 2019|
|Haiti||59,000||July 22, 2019|
|El Salvador||200,000||September 9, 2019|
|Honduras||86,000||Decision July 2018|
A government information campaign combined with the start of the school year, is believed to have helped dramatically reduce numbers in September 2017. This supported the argument that the majority of the illegal entrants are in fact economic queue jumpers, seeking a faster entry into Canada.
A federal-provincial taskforce was formed last fall in response to the situation, including Hussen, Goodale and former Quebec Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil.
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