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Number of asylum seekers entering Canada through unauthorized border crossings drops in September

29 Sep 17
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The amount of asylum seekers entering Canada through unauthorized crossings across the U.S. border dropped in September, but it’s hard to predict whether there’ll be another surge in the coming months, Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen states.

Approximately 50 people a day entered Canada via an unofficial crossing point at Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Que., in September, compared with 200 to 250 a day in August, Mr. Hussen said on Thursday. Over 12,000 asylum seekers have spanned at Lacolle from New York this season.

“The numbers have gone down, but we’ll wait to determine if this is a fad or not,” Mr. Hussen told reporters on Parliament Hill after a meeting with members of a federal-provincial task force on irregular migration.

Earlier on Thursday, Canadian government officials said they recently reviewed the Trump government’s immigration policies and discovered that the USA is a safe country for refugees. The conclusion means a bilateral agreement requiring people to be sent back across the border if they claim refugee status after entering Canada via an official U.S. border crossing stands. The NDP and refugee advocates have called on the authorities to suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement and review U.S. President Donald Trump’s current anti-immigration measures.

Talking to a Parliamentary committee meeting, Paul MacKinnon, an assistant deputy minister at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), said the department frequently does inspections of the U.S. refugee determination system and its wider immigration policies.

“We did one only a couple of months ago, even after the [Trump] executive orders came out, and we assert that their system is reasonable and does not influence the Safe Third Country Agreement as it currently stands,” Mr. MacKinnon told a joint assembly of the House of Commons national security and immigration committees.

The majority of the asylum seekers who crossed at Lacolle are Haitians who fear being expelled since the Trump government plans to finish a program in January, 2018, that allowed them temporary protected status following the gigantic 2010 earthquake in the impoverished Caribbean nation. Thousands of panicked Haitians headed north to Quebec after misinformation on social media indicated Canada would accept them as refugees.

Officials revealed in the meeting that over 5,600 asylum claimants who crossed at Lacolle have obtained restricted health-care benefits under a special directive from Mr. Hussen. The minister said the supply guarantees that those who crossed at Lacolle can get the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) while they await a meeting with the authorities to ascertain their eligibility for asylum. He said most asylum seekers complete their eligibility interview within hours of crossing the border, but the spike in Lacolle has caused delays.

“Because of this, those people could not then get IFHP as they were awaiting us, through no fault of their own,” Mr. Hussen stated. “In order to decrease the pressures on emergency rooms, hospital rooms in Quebec, we made a decision to give them IFHP.”

Officials also used Thursday’s meeting to address what they called “myths” about the recent surge in asylum seekers, including the proposal that those who cross at places like Lacolle are taking the areas of overseas refugees waiting to resettle in Canada.

“They aren’t jumping a queue, since the system is intended to manage that sort of movement,” said Michael MacDonald, a director-general at IRCC. “There is no queue jumping for those. And that processing isn’t in any way connected to the overseas refugee processing system{}”

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

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