Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Migrating for Improved Living Conditions

"Coming across the border in a way that tries to circumvent the law or defy proper procedure is no free ticket to Canada."
"They must prove they need Canada’s protection to keep them safe. Seeking asylum is not a shortcut to get around normal immigration rules and procedures."
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale

"It's becoming apparent to us that they've [Nigerians] obtained these visas to come to Canada to make asylum claims."
"(But) I want to make it clear there are no formal negotiations with respect to the Safe Third Country agreement,"
"The pieces are coming together it’s just a matter of time, but I don’t expect this to take months, it’ll take a matter of few weeks."
Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen

"We estimate that a bit more than 90 per cent of irregular migrants do not meet our criteria [to claim asylum], and that they must leave."
Transport Minister Marc Garneau

A tide of migrants crossing illegally into Canada has become a daily event in the past year. U.S. President Donald Trump's assertion that he would put an end to the millions of illegal migrants living in the United States has spurred many of those migrants to leave the U.S. before they are removed, and try their luck in Canada, instead. They are aware that were they to cross at legal border crossings they can be turned away, given the Safe Third Country Agreement between Canada and the U.S. whereby the first country of entry is responsible for those who enter seeking status.

Crossing the border illegally, by avoiding official ports of entry means that those crossing can be arrested. But the moment they assert their intention to declare themselves refugees planning to submit a refugee application, they are no longer detained and are instead sent on for provincial aid agencies and arms of the provincial government to provide shelter, food and other social services while awaiting due process in approving or rejecting those applications. The federal government has been inept in meeting the challenge of illegal crossings.

Shelters in cities like Montreal and Toronto are filling with these refugees. Who require medical attention as well as lodging and food. Services already strained for Canadians are being further distended to encompass the needs of migrants. And because there are so many crossing into Canada, estimated at 400 daily, the system is over-strained; both the capacity to keep abreast of the applications and the humanitarian need to provide the basics of shelter and food.

It can take well over a year before an application is dealt with, and the greater the backlog the greater the length of time it takes to dispose of the application. When the result is a refusal of refugee status, the individuals involved may then proceed on to a number of appeals, the entire process extending over years. Some whose applications are refused cannot be found for extradition, having moved on to live illegally in Canada.
A family of asylum claimants walks across the border into Canada from the United States in February 2017.
A family of asylum claimants walks across the border into Canada from the United States in February 2017.   THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Last year, as the amnesty for Haitians came close to an end, the influx of those preparing to claim refugee status was comprised mostly of Haitians, although El Salvadorans and Eritreans were part of the mix as well as people from other Latin American and African countries. Most are economic migrants and as such do not qualify for refugee status. By crossing illegally and declaring themselves refugees they are deliberately pushing ahead of those of their counterparts making legal applications to emigrate.

At the present time the group most represented by a rising tide of would-be refugees are Nigerians who make application for travel visas to the United States for defined periods as visitors, but who, as soon as they arrive in the United States, head straight for a border with Canada to cross illegally and once done, declare themselves refugees. Whereupon they are ushered toward services meant to look to their immediate needs as they await the drawn-out and ever-lengthening process of application review.

The government has begun a program of installing temporary facilities to service the needs of illegal crossers, close to the border. Canada's dilemma will soon resemble that faced by France, by Italy, by Greece, with holding camps, disorder, resentment and unrest, unless a firm hand is taken to control the situation, starting with altering the Canada-U.S. agreement that has failed the test. As soon as the last of the American temporary protection status nationals have been given a disinviting status, Canada can expect volumes of new illegals crossing the border to try their luck in Canada.

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