A crisis is coming: If this many cross the U.S. border in February, how many will come by June? | Coyne

Another good column by Andrew Coyne, reminding that there is no easy solution for the refugees crossing the border, and the more realistic approach is a mix of measures:

I feel for Tony Clement. The Tory MP has been demanding the government “enforce the law” on the mounting numbers of asylum seekers who have been crossing the border from the United States, illegally, in recent weeks. But he found himself sputtering for air Tuesday when a CBC radio interviewer asked him what, specifically, he wanted the government to do, eventually hanging up in a snit.

It’s a good question, though: In what way are the police officers who have been arresting the would-be refugees as soon as they step on Canadian soil failing to enforce the law? The calls from Clement and other critics for a “crackdown” amount to a demand that illegal immigration should be made illegal, enforced by the arrest of all those who are currently being arrested.

But as I say I feel for Clement. Like him, I have no easy answers to this dilemma. Unlike him, however, I’m willing to admit it. The migration of peoples is one of the great motive forces of human history; when large numbers of people are determined to pick up and move somewhere, there isn’t a force in the world that can stop them.

That does not relieve us of the need to address what seems likely to grow into a considerable problem, if not a crisis. We Canadians have been congratulating ourselves at our greater tolerance as we watch Europe struggling with the sudden influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Middle East, or the United States with the accumulated backlog of millions of illegal immigrants from Mexico and points south.

….That leaves … whatever it is the Tories are proposing. But what is that? The police are not empowered to arrest people until they are on Canadian soil — and the minute they do set foot, as asylum-seekers, they have rights, including the right to a hearing to adjudicate their claim.

Perhaps you believe they should be sent back without a hearing. But that is not Canadian law, and given Supreme Court rulings on the matter is unlikely to become law. And there is the little matter that in some cases this really would amount to condemning people to persecution, even death. A decent country — and a signatory to UN conventions — does not do such things.

The easiest of all answers — build a wall — would not just be expensive folly, as in the U.S.-Mexico example: it isn’t even a practical possibility. This is not a problem we are going to solve, but manage, by a combination of measures: by increasing our intake of immigrants and refugees; by adding more staff and resources to border control points; by prevailing upon the Americans, if we can, to preserve a humane and law-based immigration and refugee policy; and by turning back many of those who do apply, perhaps under a revised and extended Safe Third Country Agreement.

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About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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