Illegal immigrants an even bigger problem in 2018 in Canada.
The first thing you will notice is that the number of illegal migrants so far this year exceeds the number who came in through regular border crossings: 3,082 illegal migrants intercepted by RCMP versus 2,950 through air, marine, land and inland ports of entry.
You will also notice these numbers are already three times higher than last year’s numbers.
We haven’t even reached peak crossing season either. If this continues, rather than 20,000 people coming across the border illegally like we saw in 2017, we are going to see 60,000 illegal migrants.
“To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith.” Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, sent that tweet in January 2017, after President Donald Trump temporarily barred refugees from the United States.
Now Canada is sending a cooler message. “There are no guarantees you can stay in Canada,” tweeted the immigration department last month.
Immigration lawyer Raj Sharma paints a picture of a process that has been completely derailed. The backlog in claims was already bad and this influx of illegal arrivals is only making the delays worse. Sharma said the approval ratio is as high as 70%, likely because overwhelmed officials find it easier to accept claims rather than reject them. That of course only encourages more illegal migrants to cross the border and take their chances.
Among all claimants, the biggest group last year was Haitians. Some came after Trump withdrew the “temporary protected status” they received after an earthquake in Haiti in 2010. American citizens, many the children of undocumented immigrants, were the third-biggest group. This year Nigerians top the ranking.
At first Canadians enjoyed feeling morally superior. Then they started to worry that most asylum-seekers were really economic migrants.
The opposition Conservatives accused the government of losing control of immigration. Such claims threaten the consensus that underpins Canada’s immigration policy, which remains generous. This year it plans to admit 310,000 immigrants and refugees, equivalent to 0.8% of its population.
Asserting control means sounding tough. Avoiding border posts “is no free ticket to Canada”, said Ralph Goodale, the public-safety minister, on May 7th. Asylum-seekers will be arrested before officials consider their claims, he warned.
The surest way to solve the problem would be to close the loophole in the third-country agreement. There are rumours that Canada has proposed this to the United States. Trump is unlikely to support a deal that would keep more asylum-seekers in the United States. Canadian NGOs have challenged the existing agreement in court, saying that the United States no longer qualifies as a safe country. Trudeau may wish he could build a wall.