Illegal border crossers still getting a free ticket

If tens of thousands of dollars, free healthcare and the ability to remain in Canada is not a “free ticket,” then what is?

(This column originally appeared in the Toronto Sun)

By: Candice Malcolm

Asylum seekers do not get a “free ticket” to Canada, said public safety minister Ralph Goodale on Monday in Montreal. He joined Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen and Transportation Minister Marc Garneau in a news conference designed to assure Canadians that the Trudeau government has a handle on the illegal immigration crisis.

Perhaps unwittingly, their numbers told a very different story. 

Canada received over 50,000 asylum applications in 2017, the highest in decades and a 200% increase over the previous year. Nearly half of these claimants — about 20,600 — crossed illegally into Canada to make their claim. Or, as the Liberals like to say, they crossed “irregularly.”

So far in 2018, things have gotten significantly worse.

During the first three months of the year, 5,053 migrants have illegally crossed the border; compare this to the 1,890 during the first three months of 2017. April saw another 2,500 border-hoppers, according to Garneau, compared to 894 last April.

If 2017 was a record year, Canadians should brace themselves for figures that could be two- to three-times higher in 2018. 

The Trudeau government then revealed another totally lopsided figure: while they estimate that nine out of 10 asylum seekers are not legitimate refugees, so far, less than 1% have been deported. 

“We estimate that a bit more than 90% of irregular migrants do not meet our criteria and that they must leave,” said Garneau, later clarifying that this figure refers to the wave of Haitian migrants who arrived last year.

Regardless, Garneau stated that the overwhelming majority of asylum seekers crossing into Canada illegally are not legitimate refugees and that they must leave. 

But, according to CBSA figures, only 243 of these migrants have been deported. 

Using Garneau’s math, of the 28,153 asylum seekers who’ve come to Canada since January 2017, about 25,337 will eventually be deported.  

That means 243 down, 25,000 to go. 

The Liberal government may have a hard time convincing these migrants to leave Canada. After all, asylum seekers are given access to government housing, social welfare payments, provincial health care services, and they enroll their children in Canadian public schools. 

On top of this, they get access to the Interim Federal Healthcare Program (IFHP), where the feds pay for healthcare coverage until the asylum seeker registers with the provincial government system. IFHP also provides supplemental health coverage during a migrant’s first 12 months in Canada, including dental care and prescription drugs — coverage most Canadians don’t receive.  

The Harper government once tried to prevent bogus asylum seekers from maintaining access to the IFHP. They changed eligibility so that illegal migrants who had already had their asylum applications rejected by an immigration judge could no longer receive this additional care. 

The purpose was to remove financial incentives for bogus refugees to remain in Canada illegally. 

Alas, an activist judge called the cut “cruel and unusual punishment,” and partisan Liberals to this day insist the change equated to healthcare cuts to refugees. The policy was reversed, and now asylum seekers continue to receive access to “free” healthcare (courtesy of the taxpayer) even with a pending deportation order. 

The immigration department estimates that asylum seekers receive about $15,000 to $20,000 per year in various government handouts. They also admit that most bogus refugees do not get deported. 

If tens of thousands of dollars, free healthcare and the ability to remain in Canada is not a “free ticket,” then what is?