A Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer informs migrants of their rights at the Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle border in Quebec on Aug. 7.

A Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer informs migrants of their rights at the Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle border in Quebec on Aug. 7.
Photo Credit: Charles Krupa/Associated Press

Canada refugee claims, slow progress

Figures from Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) show that the influx of asylum seekers has clogged the system.

Thousands of claimants have crossed into Canada through the porous undefended border.

About 13,000 of the 32,000 claims have been made this way, but only a few hundred have had their claims processed.

Sean Rehaag (SJD) is a professor at the Osgoode Hall Law School at York University.

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Professor Sean Rehaag (SJD) Osgoode Law professor, York University, Toronto
Professor Sean Rehaag (SJD) © supplied

A huge spike in claims being made from people entering from the U.S. occurred this year, much of that attributed to policies there that would seek to end programmes allowing asylum seekers and others to remain there.

Many are Haitians who came to the U.S  in a temporary programme as a result of natural disasters. With the threat of being sent back to their country, thousands have entered Canada.

The latest figures show that 69 per cent of  those who crossed illegally into Canada are being accepted. However of the some 10,799 crossings between March and September, only 592 have been processed so far, with 408 cases accepted.

Nigerians who flew to New York City, take a bus to Plattsburg New York, then a tax to the well-known crossing point on the undefended border into Canadai where they make asylum claims
Nigerians who flew to New York City on U.S tourist visas then take a bus to Plattsburgh New York, then a tax to the well-known crossing point on the undefended border into Canada where they make asylum claims © CBC

At least two recent polls show a majority of Canadians are not happy with the illegal entries, and don’t accept the notion that they qualify as refugees.

Professor Rehaag says the IRB acceptance rate show they do meet the criteria for refugee status.

Officers ask to see passports or proof of identification, search through the asylum seekers’ phones and laptops, and note their height, weight and whether they’re currently on any medications.
Officers at the illegal crossing ask to see passports or proof of identification, search through the asylum seekers’ phones and laptops, and note their height, weight and whether they’re currently on any medications. © (Lisa Laventure/CBC

He goes on to say, the illegal or “irregular” crossings are the result of what he calls as Canada’s attempt to keep them out. This is through the “third safe country agreement” with the U.S. whereby a claim for asylum must be made in the first “safe” country where the person lands. Thus someone on the U.S. cannot come through a regular border crossing to make a claim as they will be turned back.

International and Canadian law says if they get into Canada, their claim must be heard.

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen will table Canada’s 2018 immigration levels in the House of Commons by Nov. 1.
Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen will table Canada’s 2018 immigration levels in the House of Commons by Nov. 1. © Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press

Rehaag says that the government needs to spend more on the refugee claims system to reduce the backlog.  A new report says claims are now taking up to 16 months, and there is a backlog of cases.

Professor Rehaag also says more needs to be done as people will continue to come even once the winter sets in and poses a real risk to their safety. He notes that last year, one person died, while some others suffered severe frostbite in their attempt to make it into Canada.

CBC report on migrant “irregular” crossing

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Categories: Immigration & Refugees, Politics, Society
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3 comments on “Canada refugee claims, slow progress
  1. Avatar Sterling says:

    The people walking across aren’t actually refugees. They are just leaving US in anticipation that their temporary protected status is going to be cancelled by Trump. They don’t actually have any legitimate fear of being persecuted in their country of origin.

  2. Avatar Ricardo Jr says:

    As suggested elsewhere,one passive method of stopping the entry of foreign nationals from entering Canada is the literal closure of those Woody sites with the laying of some type of barbed wire that would tell these persons to taxi to the official border crossing. This lane into our country is now closed.

  3. Avatar Philippe Dugas says:

    “International and Canadian law says if they get into Canada, their claim must be heard.”

    Wronng. There is no ambiguity as to which country these migrants are illegaly entering Canada from and because it’s the United States, they do not qualify as “Convention” refugees and are therefore inadmissible to an asylum application.

    Canada’s Immigration Act was not put in place for the sole benefit of immigrants and refugees, but also to protect taxpayers from this kind of rampant abuse.

    Canada’s Immigration Act (IRPA) states that persons who enter our country illlegaly from a safe third country are inadmissible to an asylum application. What are safe third countries? They are nations listed (42 as of writing this) on Canada’s Designated Country of Origin List:
    http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/refugees/reform-safe.asp

    When are persons from safe third countries admissible to an asylum application? When they don’t commit an illegal act such as entering our country illegaly and either submit an application from within their safe third country or inland when they visit Canada by arriving through a legal port of entry.

    IRPA prescribes two options to deal with illegal migrants from safe third countries having entered Canada illegaly. The first option is very expensive, the second option is very inexpensive:

    1. Charge, detain, prosecute and deport them.
    2. Canada can offer to forego laying charges and safely escort and remit them to American authories.

    As noted below by the Auditor General, each and every asylum application, whether accepted or rejected, carries with it a processing cost of 26K:

    “Citizenship and Immigration Canada estimates a taxpayer cost of about $26,000 for each refugee claimant”
    http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/English/parl_oag_20