An immigration powderkeg

As much as there has been considerable attention on how the new American administration may impact Canada from an economic perspective, overlooked thus far has been the impact to Canada on illegal refugee entry.

As you may be aware, in parts of Manitoba and Quebec there has been a significant increase of refugees illegally crossing into Canada creating considerable concern on the overall integrity of Canada’s immigration and refugee system.

The concern is that if refugees can enter Canada illegally in an effort to obtain status, it may encourage others to follow a similar course of illegal action as opposed to making a legal application through the existing process.

To be fair to the refugees, there are concerns they may be deported from the Unites States as a result of a crackdown on illegal immigration by the new administration.

At the same time, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said Canadians will welcome those who are turned away or refused entry in the U.S.

Although I do not believe the prime minister intended to encourage illegal entry into Canada, his comments have certainly encouraged some to do precisely that.

To further complicate the situation, Canada and the U.S. signed the Safe Third Country Agreement in 2002. 

This agreement essentially means that any person seeking refugee status must make a claim in the first country they arrive in, either Canada or the United States. 

It means the recent refugees crossing the border illegally into Canada cannot, in effect, apply for refugee status in Canada.

As a result, some—including the NDP—have called on the Liberal government to suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement, an action that, to date, the Liberals have said they will not consider.

This is a difficult situation. Many of those illegally entering Canada—if they are deported back to the United States—may well again be deported back to their home countries where very real threats and dangers may exist.

At the same time, if Canada does allow the Safe Third Party agreement to be suspended, it will set a precedent that could result in potentially significant amounts of refugees illegally entering Canada and, at the same time, undermining the integrity of our refugee and immigration system. 

For that reason, I believe the Liberals will need to proceed cautiously in how this situation is resolved.

 Currently, there are no legislative measures being contemplated in the House of Commons with respect to this matter.

On the same theme, I would be interested in hearing your views on the subject of refugees illegally entering Canada from the United States.

Do you support the Safe Third Country agreement being lifted, or should our current laws remain in effect and be enforced? 

I can be reached at [email protected]  or call toll free at 1-800-665-8711.


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About the Author

Dan Albas, Conservative member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, is the shadow minister of innovation, science, economic development and internal trade, and sits on the standing committee on finance.

Before entering public life, Dan was the owner of Kick City Martial Arts, responsible for training hundreds of men, women and youth to bring out their best.

In British Columbia, Dan has been consistently one of the lowest spending MPs on office and administration related costs despite operating two offices to better serve local constituents.

Dan is consistently recognized as one of Canada’s top 10 most active members of Parliament on Twitter (@danalbas) and continues to write a weekly column published in many local newspapers and on this website.

He can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free at 1-800-665-8711.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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