Terminology aside, crossings a problem
The word from Ottawa is that we’re no longer supposed to refer to illegal border crossers as “illegal” border crossers. Thanks, but no thanks. Our word choice works just fine.
On Monday, federal Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen chastised Ontario Premier Doug Ford and his colleagues for using the term.
“I’m very concerned by Premier Ford and (provincial) minister (Lisa) MacLeod really making statements that are difficult to understand when it comes to how they’re describing asylum seekers,” Hussen said to reporters in Halifax.
“These are people who we have a legal obligation to give a fair hearing to, and so we’re applying Canadian law, we’re applying international law and that requires all levels of government to work together.”
These words were echoed in a press release sent out to the media by the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers.
They claim assigning the phrase “illegal” to any asylum claimants in Canada is inaccurate and that “the pejorative connotation associated with the term ‘illegal’ implies these claimants are doing something they should not or getting away with crimes.”
Here’s the problem in all of this: Those who cross the border illegally are doing something they shouldn’t be doing, and it’s a crime.
Canada hears all asylum claims, even those who cross into Canada through illegal means. That’s where they get a fair hearing. Canada is signatory to a United Nations Refugee Convention that allows for just that.
Legitimate refugees fleeing war and persecution are screened from those who may wish to move to Canada for a better life, and potentially criminals and terrorists.
We have one hearing process for refugees, and another for immigration where those who want to emigrate here must undergo a rigorous application process.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a year ago, after creating the border crisis with his “#WelcomeToCanada” tweet, was eventually forced to make that differentiation.
“For someone to successfully seek asylum it’s not about economic migration,” Trudeau told reporters. “It’s about vulnerability, exposure to torture or death, or being stateless people.”
Those who show up at our borders do have tragic and compelling stories. But let’s not kid ourselves all are refugees.
Politically correct hectoring about terminology distracts from the broader issue: That illegal border crossings are undermining our immigration system.