Sep 10, 2019 – The number of irregular border crossers from the U.S. to Canada intercepted by RCMP officers rose above 2018 levels in June and July, federal government data shows.
After being well below 2018 levels for January through May, June 2019 saw 1,567 people intercepted by RCMP officers looking for refugee immigration status, compared to 1,263 in June 2018.
The trend continued in July, when 1,874 interceptions were made in 2019, compared to 1,634 in 2018.
It is a trend that will concern Canada’s federal government, given asylum and immigration is a hot topic with the general election approaching in October.
Source: Federal government
Figures overall for 2019 remain significantly lower than what they were at this point of 2018.
To the end of July, 8,581 people have been intercepted at irregular border points by RCMP officers, compared to 12,378 by the end of July 2018.
The number of irregular border crossers began to increase after U.S. President Donald Trump threatened the Temporary Protected Status of thousands of people in America in 2017.
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Canada’s federal government sought to change the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to try and stop the flow of asylum seekers who enter from the U.S. at irregular border points.
The change, part of Bill C-97 that passed in June 2019, means asylum seekers who had previously made a refugee claim in another country could not then make a claim in Canada.
It means that asylum seekers who arrive in Canada having previously made a refugee claim in the U.S., are not eligible to seek asylum in Canada.
Safe Third Country Agreement
The move comes following attempts by the federal government to change the Safe Third Country Agreement in place between Canada and the U.S.
The bilateral agreement means that an asylum seeker has to claim refugee status in the first ‘safe’ country at which they arrive.
It means that asylum seekers arriving in the U.S. are not allowed to cross into Canada to claim refugee status. If they try to cross into Canada from the U.S. at recognized border points, they are turned back.
However, they are allowed to claim refugee status if they have already made it to Canada, which is why more than 40,000 crossed at irregular border points in 2017 and 2018 as they try to flee Donald Trump’s U.S. immigration crackdown.
The overwhelming majority of irregular border crossers arrive in Quebec, although they are then distributed around Canada while they waiting for Immigration and Refugee Board hearings.
Source: Federal government
In 2019, for example, 8,364 out of 8,581 border crossers have crossed into the French-speaking province.
It was announced in August that Quebec will receive $250 million from the federal government to cover the costs of dealing with the influx.