Is Trump’s refugee crackdown threat pushing asylum seekers into Canada?
2017/02/13 Leave a comment
Under the Safe Third Country Agreement, only those asylum seekers who have family already living in Canada or those who have already been refused refugee status in the United States will be considered for asylum if they show up at Canadian land border posts.
But those who cross illegally are exploiting a loophole in the law — the conditions of the Safe Third Country Agreement do not apply to people who are already in Canada when they make a claim for asylum.
The Canada Border Service Agency will not reveal how many asylum seekers are crossing into Canada illegally. But overall, there has been a sharp rise in the number of people seeking asylum in recent months.
In 2016, there were 2,529 asylum claims made at Quebec’s land border crossings, according to statistics from the agency. That figure averages out to 211 claimants each month.
But the numbers started to climb dramatically this fall. There were 289 refugee claimants in October, 369 in November and 591 in December.
Montreal immigration lawyer Éric Taillefer said his caseload of refugee claimants began to increase noticeably in December.
“Before I had one from time to time and now in December and early January there have been many,” he said, adding that most of his clients are from coming from Eritrea, Iraq and Libya.
“These are people who have fears of returning to their country of origin,” said Handfield.
Most of his clients are people who were already living in the United States, but others obtain tourist visas to travel to the U.S. and use that as the entry point for their trek to Canada. Despite American fears about border security since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Handfield said it remains easier to obtain the necessary permissions to enter the U.S. than those required to enter Canada.