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Illegal Border Crossings into Canada Nearly Triple

Illegal crossings at the Canada-U.S. international border have spiked every month in 2017. According to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) intercepted 887 people in March, nearly triple the 315 entries in January, making the total 1,860 for the year. And these are just the people RCMP catches.

The number of “RCMP interceptions” refers to asylum seekers apprehended between the ports of entry and does not reflect other illegal border crossings

Most of the interceptions were in Quebec (644), but 170 were in Manitoba, a province sharing part of its border with Minnesota.

Refugees have been walking across the border to circumvent a Canadian policy [Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement] that prohibits them from seeking asylum at official U.S. border crossing points, since the U.S. is already considered a safe country for refugees. Tiny towns along the Manitoba border are on the route many refugees are taking to get from Minneapolis to Winnipeg. 

Which shows there’s a loophole in the policy: Those who sneak across the border can request asylum because they are making their claim while standing on Canadian soil.

In March, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale’s office stated the illegal entry figures were “still small overall” and haven’t interfered with the rest of the immigration system. The statement was recently recirculated.

To be clear – trying to slip across the border in an irregular manner is not a “free” ticket to Canada. The asylum seekers are apprehended and secured by police or local authorities.

To handle these matters thus far, CBSA and the RCMP have made internal adjustments to ensure they have the right personnel and tools in the right places to deal with existing circumstances safely and securely. As the situation evolves, these professional organizations will advise as to what extra resources may be required.

If increases in illegal crossings continue (which they are expected to), the Canadian government may have to do more than just “internal adjustments.”

An opinion poll released in March by Reuters/Ipsos showed nearly half of Canadians support deporting illegal border crossers. The sentiment sounds familiar. According to another Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted in the same week, 50 percent of adults in the United States also support “increasing the deportation of illegal immigrants.”

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