(This column originally appeared in the Toronto Sun)
Canada is a welcoming country with a proud history of accepting and resettling some of the world’s most vulnerable and persecuted people. There are refugee success stories all around us, and we should always have space in our country to protect those fleeing violence and oppression.
We should have no patience, however, for those who take advantage of our generosity by purposely thwarting our immigration and national security laws.
The recent surge in asylum claims being filed in rural Manitoba is one such example.
According to stats from the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA), the number of illegal crossings in Manitoba alone has skyrocketed over recent years. In the 2013-14 fiscal year, there were 68 illegal crossings, 136 in 2014-15 and 321 in 2015-16.
The CBSA has already recorded 403 cases of illegal crossings in this fiscal year.
A CBC report on these illegal crossings refers to a “network of drivers” in the U.S. who transport migrants to the border. The migrants then cross into Canada illegally and claim to be refugees.
There’s a more accurate way of describing this illegal “network.” It’s called a human smuggling ring. And these human smugglers know exactly how to get around existing laws and bilateral agreements.
Canada and the United States have a treaty, the Safe Third Country Agreement, which requires individuals seeking asylum to file their claim in whichever country they arrive in first.
Canada, therefore, does not accept refugees coming through the United States, and vice versa.
The human smugglers know full well that this agreement prevents them from bringing wannabe refugees into Canada – a preferred destination, given Canada’s lenient immigration laws and generous welfare benefits.
But the human smugglers also know that the Safe Third Country Agreement is only enforced at International airports and major land border crossings in Canada.
They know that if a client is dropped off at the border in Buffalo, NY or Blaine, WA, the asylum seekers would immediately be turned away.
That is why hundreds of refugees are showing up at border fields in Manitoba. They are purposely and deliberately circumventing our immigration laws.
Yet, rather than condemning this illegal activity, some of Canada’s top lawyers are urging the government to change the law and accommodate these human smugglers.
The group of 235 legal scholars have called for the Trudeau government to suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement. They argue that the United States can no longer be considered a “safe country.”
What these activist lawyers are really doing is watering down the definition of a refugee.
To be considered a refugee, as per international law...(READ MORE)