Trudeau should probably stop telling desperate refugees that everyone is welcome in Canada: Graeme Gordon

While I think he overstates the case and is unduly alarmist, there is more than a kernel of truth in ensuring that any messaging that contrasts US to Canadian policies needs to be carefully calibrated to reduce expectations:

Are you one of the millions of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. afraid of being deported? Come to Canada! An asylum-seeker worried your refugee claim will be denied in America? Welcome to Canada! Paid a paltry wage in Mexico? Head on up to Canada!

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau began broadcasting this heart-warming message in late January as a not-so-subtle subtweet about President Donald Trump’s travel ban.

“To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada” he tweeted on Jan. 28, followed by a picture of him greeting a refugee family.

The two tweets garnered over a million likes and half-a-million retweets, creating millions of misleading impressions about Canada as a sanctuary for all the world’s displaced. Anyone with the smallest bit of knowledge about the immigration process understands that Canada’s doors are anything but wide open, but Trudeau isn’t just blatantly spreading falsehoods by sending that message — he’s actually enticing people to uproot their lives, throwing another wrench into an already chaotic immigration system, all based on disingenuous messaging.

Armed with the fallacious belief that Canada will absolutely offer them residency, many asylum-seekers will gamble all their money and risk their lives trying to make the dangerous journey to Canada. Indeed, we’ve seen how quickly would-be immigrants will flood the borders if they believe their chances of staying have improved.

The Liberals’ elimination of the visa requirement for Mexican travellers at the end of last year, for example, has led to a 1,000 per cent increase in Mexican refugee claims this year. We know based on data from before the visa restriction, however, that only a fraction of those applicants will be allowed to stay, meaning that many Mexicans will spend thousands coming to Canada with only a slim chance of actually gaining residency.

Nevertheless, Trudeau’s rhetoric will surely resonate among asylum-seekers currently in the U.S. who are considering entering Canada illegally in order to bypass the Safe Third Country Agreement.  Already, in the first two months of 2017, Canadian police intercepted 1,134 asylum-seekers crossing the border illegally, which is half of all of last year’s total.

If we’re seeing these sorts of numbers in the dead of winter — and Trump has only begun his crackdown on illegal immigrants currently residing in America — surely we will see even greater numbers as the weather gets warmer, especially as Trudeau continues to peddle the notion that refugees can find a home in Canada.

But of course, many refugees will not find a home in Canada, even if they are granted temporary asylum. According to data supplied by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, out of the 15,196 in-country refugee applicants processed in 2016, a total of 4,970 were rejected for various reasons, such as applicants not being considered in enough danger in their home country — and that was only after hundreds of other applications had already been terminated because the applicants had criminal records, abandoned claims, etc.

Source: Trudeau should probably stop telling desperate refugees that everyone is welcome in Canada – CBC News | Opinion


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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