Canada Might Give Recent Asylum Seekers A Cold Shoulder

Mar 22, 2017, 00:38

"(The) airport was the easiest way, but because of the visa requirements, it is becoming more hard to travel here by air than by land, and it is easier to get a visa to the USA than to Canada", said Janet Dench of the Canadian Council for Refugees.

Given Canada's geographical isolation and the popularity of the United States as a destination for migrants, experts say, Ottawa historically received more refugees by air than at land borders.

But Canadian Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen told Parliament Monday the political atmosphere in the USA isn't what's driving them.

Since U.S. President Donald Trump's announcement of a crackdown on undocumented immigrants and a travel ban for residents from several Muslim-majority countries, many people have tried to cross into Canada. Forty-eight percent said they supported "increasing the deportation of people living in Canada illegally", while 50 percent of Americans support "increasing the deportation of illegal immigrants", according to a USA version of the poll conducted the same week.

Other Canadians told Reuters it's one thing to welcome immigrants who come legally, but another matter when they decide to put themselves at the front of the line and enter illegally. The handling of those attempting to cross into the country illegally, however, has been more fractious.

-Canada border crossings. Refugees seeking asylum status in Canada make up part of the surge.

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The Canadian government has set an immigration target of 300,000 for 2017, comprising 1% of the population.

In January, a separate Ipsos poll found that 59 percent of Canadians approved of Trudeau, while 41 percent disapproved.

Despite growing political pressure and public dissatisfaction, Trudeau has refused to stem irregular migration across the border.

"To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith", he wrote. "Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada", Trudeau tweeted in January.

The number of refugee claimants arriving in Canada hit rock bottom at 10,370 in 2013, the year after the Conservative government revamped the asylum system to expedite processing of claims, reduce health care for refugees and deport failed claimants quicker. The issue still ranks behind healthcare, taxes, unemployment, and poverty, which Canadians view as primary concerns.

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