As the United States deals with controversy surrounding its own immigration policy, its northern neighbor is now addressing a spike in border crossings by appointing a “minister responsible for irregular migration.”
According to Reuters, more than 30,000 asylum seekers have crossed into the country since the beginning of 2017, with many citing the harsher policies of the Trump administration as their reason for seeking refugee status in Canada instead of the U.S.
In April, an average of 85 individuals crossed the border into Canada illegally. By June, however, that level had dropped by about half.
Regardless of the cause, many Canadian officials have criticized Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for what they see as a timid policy that does not go far enough to discourage the continued illegal border crossings.
Much of that criticism has come from Premier Doug Ford and his supporters in the populist party elected to power in Ontario, according to the Toronto Star.
In his effort to address the issue, the prime minister announced this week that Member of Parliament Bill Blair has been pegged to become Canada’s minister of border security and organized crime reduction. Officials also described his title as “minister responsible for irregular migration.”
Trudeau met with Ford earlier this month to discuss the issue of border security.
Following the June 5 conversation, Trudeau described his counterpart in Ontario as not “quite as aware of our international obligations to the UN Convention on Refugees as he might have been.”
He said he “spent a little time explaining how the asylum-seeking system works” and explained to Ford that the asylum policy is separate from Canada’s general immigration law.
“Canada has always had a separate procedure to assess refugees and to determine whether they are, indeed, fleeing violence, persecution and terror, or else they are simply economic migrants, at which point they would get sent home,” Trudeau said at the time.
The attempt to clarify, however, did not satisfy critics including Ontario Children, Community and Social Services Minister Lisa MacLeod.
She revealed recently that the province would be ending its cooperation with Ottawa regarding the nation’s migrant crisis.
Placing the blame on Trudeau, McLeod said the prime minister chose to announce that Canada would welcome asylum seekers, paving the way for the border crossings that followed.
“He was the one that tweeted out that everyone was welcome here, and, as a result of that, we’ve had thousands of people cross the border illegally and it’s putting a strain on many of our public resources,” she said.
Simon Jefferies, a Ford spokesperson, shared a similar view in his reaction to the meeting earlier this month with Trudeau.
“The federal government encouraged illegal border-crossers to come into our country, and the federal government continues to usher people across the U.S.-Quebec border into Ontario,” he said.
Calling it “100 percent the result of the federal government,” Jefferies added that the policy has “resulted in a housing crisis, and threats to the services that Ontario families depend on.”
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