We can han­dle asy­lum seek­ers Trudeau in­sists

How­ever, mi­gra­tion must be done in an or­derly fash­ion

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - TERRY PEDWELL MAXVILLE, ONT. —

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau, long an out­spo­ken cham­pion of Canada’s rep­u­ta­tion for wel­com­ing new­com­ers, added a brac­ing dose of re­al­ity Fri­day as he urged would-be mi­grants to re­spect the coun­try’s bor­der with the United States.

Trudeau took pains to re­as­sure Cana­di­ans that the coun­try has the re­sources and the ca­pac­ity to deal with the sud­den spike in asy­lum seek­ers who have crossed into Que­bec in re­cent weeks.

But in a de­par­ture from his usual rhetoric on im­mi­gra­tion, he also made it clear that any­one who is caught try­ing to en­ter the coun­try il­le­gally would be re­quired to nav­i­gate the proper im­mi­gra­tion chan­nels.

“We want mi­gra­tion to Canada to be done in an or­derly fash­ion; there’s bor­der check­points and bor­der con­trols that we need to make sure are re­spected,” Trudeau said dur­ing a visit to the Glen­garry High­land Games in east­ern On­tario.

“The peo­ple com­ing now ir­reg­u­larly will still have to go through all the proper pro­cesses.”

Trudeau — clad in his grand­fa­ther James’s “Sin­clair” tar­tan kilt — said it’s im-

por­tant for Cana­di­ans to know that the gov­ern­ment is mak­ing sure the in­flux of peo­ple is be­ing han­dled prop­erly.

Canada re­mains an open and com­pas­sion­ate coun­try when it comes to refugees, he said. But that’s only pos­si­ble, he sug­gested, when Cana­dian cit­i­zens know and un­der­stand that the sys­tem is work­ing prop­erly.

The num­ber of peo­ple seek­ing asy­lum in Que­bec has tripled in the past two weeks: while there were roughly 50 re­quests a day dur­ing the first half of July, the num­ber has since surged to 150 a day.

Que­bec had al­ready re­ceived 6,500 asy­lum seek­ers by the end of June and is on track to have 12,000 by the end of the year.

The prov­ince says the new ar­rivals are putting pres­sure on tem­po­rary ac­com­mo­da­tion re­sources, which are nec­es­sary while the fed­eral gov­ern­ment de­cides whether each new­comer is el­i­gi­ble to make a refugee claim.

Trudeau said Im­mi­gra­tion Min­is­ter Ahmed Hussen was on his way to La­colle, Que., to en­sure the nec­es­sary im­mi­gra­tion staff and case work­ers are on the job.

“We are en­sur­ing that the ca­pac­ity to deal with th­ese refugees is in place and our im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem re­mains strong and ro­bust.”

Cana­di­ans know in­trin­si­cally the value that new­com­ers can bring to the coun­try’s com­mu­nity and its econ­omy, he added.

“The core strength of Canada is that it’s not gov­ern­ments that are open to im­mi­gra­tion, it’s Cana­di­ans them­selves who are open to im­mi­gra­tion,” he said.

“One of the rea­sons Cana­di­ans are open to im­mi­gra­tion is be­cause we know it has con­trib­uted to the growth of this coun­try. Pro­tect­ing Cana­di­ans’ con­fi­dence in the in­tegrity of our sys­tem al­lows us to con­tinue to be open, and that’s ex­actly what I plan to con­tinue to do.”

Que­bec has asked Ot­tawa to speed up the claims eval­u­a­tion process, since most of the cost of car­ing for the new­com­ers falls to the prov­ince in the mean­time. For now, they are be­ing housed at Mon­treal’s Olympic Sta­dium, which has been set up to ac­com­mo­date as many as 600 peo­ple un­til mid-Septem­ber.

Most of those ar­riv­ing at the sta­dium are of Haitian de­scent.

The ex­o­dus from the United States is be­ing blamed on the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ex­pected plan to end a pro­gram that granted Haitians so-called “tem­po­rary pro­tected sta­tus” fol­low­ing the mas­sive earth­quake that struck in 2010.

If the pro­gram isn’t ex­tended, as many as 60,000 Haitians could be sent back to their home­land.

RYAN REMIORZ, THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

A group of asy­lum seek­ers crosses the Cana­dian bor­der Fri­day in Cham­plain, N.Y. There are now about 150 peo­ple a day cross­ing over.

PAUL CHI­AS­SON, THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Que­bec had al­ready re­ceived 6,500 peo­ple by the end of June.

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