This week the topic of illegal entry into Canada was again a major point of debate in the House of Commons.
As you may recall, last year Prime Minister Trudeau famously tweeted:
“To those fleeing persecution, terror & war Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada”
More recently in Ottawa, an access to information request by a National Post journalist revealed this tweet from the Prime Minister resulted in “a spike in inquiries from would-be refugees to Canadian embassies abroad, and resulted in confusion within the federal government”
As one communication from an immigration officer revealed:
“We are receiving an increasing number of enquiries from the public about requesting refugee status in Canada, and a number clearly having links with our Prime Minister’s tweet this weekend”.
Last year, the RCMP intercepted over 20,000 illegal entries into Canada.
In Ottawa, the Liberals refer to these incidents as “irregular entries”.
In addition, we have learned that 80 Immigration officials were transferred from other files to deal with this influx of illegal entries requesting refugee status.
As a result, I am seeing a trend where those who are attempting to legally come to Canada are having applications unfairly delayed or are being arbitrarily denied with little justification as to why.
From my perspective as an MP, it is deeply troubling when illegal immigration moves to the front of the line, over those who are following all of the rules to come to Canada legally.
Yesterday, the Official Opposition tabled a motion that proposed several measures but can be best summarized as requesting the Liberals to table: “a plan to (i) stop the influx of people illegally entering Canada from the United States, (ii) take appropriate measures to handle those who have already claimed asylum”
The motion also mentions the increased costs to provincial governments, who are providing social services and that this trend of illegal immigration is expected to increase given continued inaction from the Prime Minister.
In fact, so far this year there have been over 6,300 illegal entries into Canada.
The Prime Minister blames this recent problem on the former Conservative Government suggesting not enough funding was provided to the Canadian Border Services Agency.
That's an interesting claim given that the illegal entries are intentionally not made at the border in order to avoid the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement.
The 'Safe Third Country Agreement' states that refugee claimants are required to request refugee protection in the first safe country they arrive in. So if the USA was their first point of entry, their refugee claim is in the USA.
However a loophole to this agreement is entering Canada illegally through other points of entry that are not at an official border crossing.
Ultimately the Liberals and the NDP voted down the Conservative opposition motion.
However during Tuesday's Question Period, the Prime Minister was asked if he “thinks it is wrong to illegally enter the country. If so, can he unequivocally state so, here today?”
For the record the Prime Minister refused to answer the question.
This leads to my question today:
With over 20,000 illegal entries into Canada last year and so far over 6,300 illegal entries this year, do you believe that Prime Minister Trudeau is doing enough to come up with a solution for this problem?
I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.
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Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.