Canada: No plans for border clampdown to deter asylum seekers from U.S.
toronto — Canada is enforcing border laws and is willing to put more resources in place to deal with the influx of asylum seekers from the United States, but it will not tighten its border to deter migrants crossing illegally from the United States, a government minister said Saturday.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said the issue had not risen to a scale that required hindering the flow of goods and people moving across the world’s longest undefended border.
Hundreds of people, mainly from Africa and the Middle East, have defied winter conditions and walked across the border, seeking asylum. They are fleeing President Trump’s immigration crackdown, migrants and refugee agencies say.
Goodale visited Emerson, Manitoba, a small border town that has seen some 200 illicit crossings so far this year.
“We all need to work together. We have to have good communication with one another. This is a set of issues that span national, provincial and local responsibilities,” Goodale told reporters at a news conference Saturday.
Goodale announced that 30,000 Canadian dollars ($22,000 American) and more resources would be given to the municipality’s volunteer fire department and other agencies in the community to cover costs associated with the influx.
Migrants have been crossing through fields and ditches because, under the Canada-United States Safe Third Country Agreement, they are turned back at official border crossings if they have already made refugee claims in the United States. If they get onto Canadian soil before being apprehended, they are allowed to stay in Canada and go through the normal refugee claim process.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Manitoba say 183 people have walked across the border into Emerson from North Dakota in sub-zero temperatures since Jan. 1. Goodale said the pace has picked up in recent weeks since the United States enforced new, stricter immigration standards.
It’s uncommon to have such a wave of asylum seekers. The influx poses a political risk for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who faces pressure from the left, which wants to let more in, and from the right, which fears an increased security risk.
Canadian and U.S. officials are working on a plan to address asylum seekers crossing into Canada illegally, with American officials keen to discover how they entered the United States in the first place. U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly is to visit Canada this month for talks on the border.
Goodale said it was important for both countries to have the same data and information about the migrants “to fully appreciate where the flow began and all of the factors — and it’s not just one factor — that are contributing to the migration.”