(This column originally appeared in the Toronto Sun)
By: Candice Malcolm
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is starting to see the errors of his ways. He spent the past week in Montreal, doing damage control and trying to set the record straight about Canada’s immigration rules.
Earlier this year, Trudeau made international headlines by proclaiming that Canada would welcome those fleeing war and persecution. His statement warmed the hearts of liberal journalists all over the world, and he received glowing coverage for his welcoming attitude towards refugees.
The problem, however, is that many perceived Trudeau’s statements as an open invitation.
Upwards of 25,000 migrants have illegally crossed the border and applied to become refugees in Canada so far in 2017.
But our immigration system simply isn’t designed to handle this many applications.
The system is overwhelmed, and the Trudeau government is now scrambling to cope with the tens of thousands of newcomers who hope that Canada will let them stay.
Trudeau announced that his government has built temporary housing facilities in Cornwall, Ontario – makeshift refugee tent camps to house migrants until they begin receiving social assistance and can find their own accommodations.
Along with the tremendous cost of housing asylum seekers and providing them with an array of social services – including the Interim Federal Health Program that provides healthcare above and beyond what Canadian taxpayers receive – these applicants are also clogging up our immigration system.
Initial screening and vetting appointments are now being scheduled for January 2018, according to a United Nations spokesperson in Montreal.
And, according to the chair of the immigration and refugee board, there is a staggering backlog of refugee applications that are currently waiting to be processed.
The backlog is so large that some migrants may be forced to wait 11 years before having their case heard in front of an immigration judge.
No wonder Justin Trudeau is back-peddling on his earlier open-border attitude.
But things may be about to get a lot worse.
Most of the asylum seekers currently coming into Canada are Haitian nationals living in the United States.
A U.S. program that allowed temporary asylum for Haitians impacted by the 2010 earthquake is set to expire in January 2018 – much like Canada’s special immigration program for Haitians expired in 2016.
Canadian officials are now concerned that the next wave of illegal migrants coming from the U.S. could be much bigger.
While approximately 60,000 Haitians in the U.S. will begin facing deportation in January, more than 260,000 El Salvadorans will have their immigration status removed in March 2018.
Likewise, migrants from Honduras and Nicaragua could also lose their temporary status in the U.S.
If U.S.-based migrants from El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua follow in the footsteps of migrants from Haiti – crossing into Canada to make asylum claims – it’s difficult to image how our already strained system would cope.
Canada needs a coherent strategy to deal with the ongoing crisis of illegal immigration and asylum claimants.
Trudeau has taken the first step by changing his stance on refugees and stating the fact that Canada has immigration laws that will be enforced.
But he needs to do more. Rather than setting up refugee tents and welcome centres along our southern border, Trudeau should...(READ MORE)