Con­ser­va­tive MPs call on Ottawa to stop il­le­gal Canada-U.S. bor­der cross­ings

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - MOR­GAN LOWRIE

MON­TREAL — Two Con­ser­va­tive MPs are call­ing on the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to act to stop the flow of peo­ple il­le­gally cross­ing the United States bor­der into Canada.

Michelle Rem­pel and Tony Cle­ment tweeted on Sun­day that il­le­gal cross­ings are un­safe and place a bur­den on lo­cal law en­force­ment.

“The gov­ern­ment must re­spond to this sit­u­a­tion in a way that keeps Cana­di­ans safe, and sends a strong mes­sage to those con­sid­er­ing an il­le­gal cross­ing that there are proper chan­nels to do this,” Rem­pel wrote.

Cle­ment, who is the pub­lic safety critic for the Conservatives, tweeted his sup­port for Rem­pel’s com­ments. “Il­le­gal cross­ings are un­safe and a bur­den on lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties. Our laws should be en­forced,” he wrote.

Rem­pel’s mes­sage was posted af­ter Man­i­toba RCMP an­nounced that an­other 22 peo­ple were in­ter­cepted cross­ing the bor­der near Emer­son on Satur­day night.

Of­fi­cials have said a grow­ing num­ber of peo­ple are choos­ing to walk across the bor­der into Canada to claim refugee sta­tus, in­clud­ing dozens who have been ar­rested in the Emer­son area in re­cent weeks. Other prov­inces have also seen a large rise in refugee claimants who en­ter the province il­le­gally.

The tac­tic is a way to avoid the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Coun­try Agree­ment, which pre­vents most peo­ple who have been liv­ing in the United States from mak­ing a refugee claim at an of­fi­cial bor­der cross­ing on the premise that they are al­ready some­where safe.

This has prompted some peo­ple to cross else­where in or­der to make their claims from within Canada, where au­thor­i­ties gen­er­ally grant them a hear­ing.

Mon­treal im­mi­gra­tion lawyer Eric Taille­fer said the eas­i­est way to stop the il­le­gal bor­der cross­ings is to sus­pend the Safe Third Coun­try Agree­ment and al­low peo­ple to re­quest refugee sta­tus at of­fi­cial bor­der cross­ings.

“These peo­ple are not cross­ing in the winter in -30 de­gree weather for fun — they’re do­ing it be­cause they don’t have a choice,” he said in a phone in­ter­view.

A spokesper­son for Im­mi­gra­tion Min­is­ter Ahmed Hussen said Ottawa wasn’t plan­ning to sus­pend the agree­ment.

“The Safe Third Coun­try Agree­ment re­mains an im­por­tant tool for Canada and the U.S. to work to­gether on the or­derly han­dling of refugee claims made in our coun­tries,” Camielle Ed­wards said in an email.

Ed­wards said the gov­ern­ment and RCMP were work­ing to ad­dress the in­crease in asy­lum claims, which re­mains “well be­low pre­vi­ous fluc­tu­a­tions.”

PAUL CHIASSON, THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

A fam­ily of asy­lum seek­ers crosses the bor­der into Canada from the United States on Mon­day near Hem­ming­ford, Que. A grow­ing num­ber of peo­ple have been walk­ing across the bor­der into Canada to claim refugee sta­tus.

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