(This column originally appeared in the Toronto Sun)
A document tabled by the Trudeau government this week reveals that Canada is headed towards an all-time high in asylum claims in 2017.
The new data shows that, between January 1 and March 31, 2017, there were a total of 8,960 asylum claims filed through either the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) or the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA).
The three-month total is well above the recent averages for asylum claims to Canada.
In 2015, for instance, there were 16,115 claims made in the entire year. The four-year average annual number of asylum claims filed in Canada is 15,960.
The 2017 figures are on track to be more than double our recent intake.
Information released by IRCC in April and broadly reported by news outlets worldwide showed that Canada received 4,350 asylum-claims at official ports of entry from January to March 2017.
What was less broadly reported, though, is that Canada also received 4,340 claims filed through CBSA and IRCC’s inland offices.
When the RCMP intercepts individuals who enter Canada illegally, away from an official port of entry, the asylum seekers are taken to an inland office – either CBSA or IRCC, whichever is closer. Immigration officers then begin to determine eligibility and admissibility to Canada, including health screening and security vetting.
As noted by IRCC, “Asylum claimants are different from resettled refugees. Asylum seekers make a refugee claim in Canada at a Port of Entry or an in-land office (CBSA or IRCC).”
While resettled refugees “are screened abroad and undergo security and medical checks prior to being issued a visa to come to Canada,” asylum seekers have had no prior screening or vetting.
Asylum seekers require much more resources, and this surge in spontaneous claims is overwhelming the system.
The new IRCC data, unveiled through an Order Paper Question from Conservative MP Candice Bergen, also shows the breakdown of nationality of asylum seekers.
Not surprisingly, war-torn countries plagued with Islamist terrorism – like Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria – top the list, alongside failed and authoritarian states including Haiti and Turkey.
What is surprising is that a fellow Western liberal democracy also tops the list of asylum-claims to Canada.
There were 85 American citizens, with U.S. passports, who filed a refugee claim in March 2017, bringing the year-to-date total to 295.
Canada received more asylum seekers from the U.S. than we did from Somalia, Mexico or Sudan.
In previous years, the majority of asylum claims have eventually been rejected by an immigration judge or abandoned by the asylum claimant. In 2013, only 38% of claims were accepted to Canada.
The remainder of claimants are eventually deported, after...(READ MORE)