Officials confirm rise in asylum seekers [with data] crossing illegally into Canada, but RCMP lay no charges
2017/03/04 Leave a comment
Good that the numbers are being released, along with the close monitoring – an increase of 26.5 percent compared to last year (January 1 to February 21) :
Canadian officials are keeping close tabs on the number of people illegally crossing the border into Canada, but they don’t expect the winter increase will necessarily lead to a spring surge.
Government officials, who spoke on background and did not wish to be named, provided journalists with an update on illegal crossings today and confirmed an increase in three provinces.
Between Jan. 1 and Feb. 21 this year, there were 290 illegal crossings in Quebec, 94 in Manitoba and 51 in British Columbia, totalling 435.
That compares with 2,464 illegal entries apprehended by the RCMP in the same regions in all of 2016.
These numbers do not include people who may have crossed illegally without being caught by police.
While it is a criminal offence to cross into Canada outside a legal border point, no one has yet been charged, according to an official. If caught, the person who has entered the country without authorization is arrested and required to undergo a criminal background check.
“To my knowledge we haven’t charged the people for crossing the border illegally,” one official said. “We determine if there’s any criminality … then we would follow up. If there’s no criminality, we would turn them over to our counterparts at CBSA.”
The Canada Border Services Agency can detain people who have a criminal record, who can’t be properly identified or who are at risk of not showing up for a hearing. Officials stressed that all people are carefully screened by CBSA before they are released.
No charges until after refugee claim process
Refugee and human rights lawyer Lorne Waldman said police cannot lay a charge until the refugee claim process is complete.
“There’s a clear provision in the law that says people who cross the border or use false documents in order to come to Canada to make a refugee claim cannot be charged unless their claim is rejected, because the UN convention says people shouldn’t be punished for illegal entry if it’s for the purpose of making a refugee claim,” he told CBC News.
Careful screening process
“We are not releasing anybody that we have concerns about,” an official said. “Their identity is confirmed, the biometrics have been confirmed, the biographic data is confirmed … they are deemed admissible and they are eligible for proceeding towards a refugee claim.”
The total number of people who made refugee claims in Canada inland — not at official border points — climbed to 2,281 this year between Jan. 1 and Feb. 21, up from 1,803 during the same period in 2016.