Trudeau tweets not the answer to Canada's refugee issues
© Greg Nash

The day after President Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpAccuser says Trump should be afraid of the truth Woman behind pro-Trump Facebook page denies being influenced by Russians Shulkin says he has White House approval to root out 'subversion' at VA MORE issued his first travel ban order, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted a message to aliens “fleeing persecution, terror & war.” In addition to the inappropriateness of accusing the president of the United States of religious discrimination, his tweet made a promise that Canada will not be able to keep. 

His tweet was an unqualified invitation to the 65.6 million aliens worldwide who have been displaced from their countries by conflict and persecution. Canada almost certainly will have to turn away many of the aliens who accept the invitation and come to Canada relying on it.

Some will be disqualified by Canada’s Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States, which requires asylum seekers to apply for asylum in the United States if they enter that country before entering Canada, with some exceptions. 

Also, his invitation includes aliens who are fleeing terror and war, and despite their very real need for refuge, they are not likely to be able to establish eligibility for refugee status or asylum on that basis.  According to UNHCR figures, only 22.5 million of the 65.6 million displaced persons are refugees. 

Trudeau’s tweet reminds me of President Jimmy Carter’s invitation to Cuban refugees when he was asked what the government was going to do about the Mariel Boat Lift. On April 20, 1980, Cuban President Fidel Castro announced that he would permit Cubans wishing to leave Cuba to go to the United States. Two weeks later, Carter said that the United States would "welcome the Cuban refugees with open arms and open hearts." 

But the boat lift was not limited to refugees. Castro forced the boat owners who participated in the boat lift to take approximately 8,000 criminals and hundreds of mentally-ill persons. The boat lift was a financial disaster for the ship owners. Despite Carter’s promise to welcome the Cuban refugees, his administration fined the boat owners $1,000 for each of the estimated 110,000 Mariel refugees they brought here in violation of section 273 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. 

Canada’s Refugee Program  

Notwithstanding Trudeau’s invitation, Canada has reduced the number of refugees that it is willing to accept.  In 2017, Canada will only accept 40,000 refugees. This is a substantial reduction from the 55,800 refugees it accepted the previous year. This may be due to the fact that there has been a very large increase in the number of aliens who come directly to Canada to seek refuge.    

In-Canada Asylum Program 

Canada’s asylum program provides refuge for aliens fleeing specified types of persecution who already are in Canada. The burden of proof for asylum eligibility is the same as it is for refugee eligibility — a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, political opinion, nationality, or membership in a particular social group.   

Refugees are screened and selected abroad before they go to Canada, and asylees are screened and selected in Canada. The Canadian government decides in advance how many refugees it will accept. It has no control over how many aliens come to Canada seeking asylum.

Trudeau’s tweet appears to have increased the number of aliens seeking asylum in Canada.

Chris Friesen, from the Immigrant Services Society of British Columbia claims that the Trudeau government's announcements welcoming refugees has made Canada a “beacon of hope for desperate refugees.'' When someone files an asylum claim, it is adjudicated by the Immigration and Refugee Board. According to the board, there has been a 40-percent increase in new claims

According to an Immigration Department memorandum which was obtained by the Canadian press under Canada’s Access to Information Act, asylum applications are expected to far exceed earlier projections. As of the end of April, there were 12,040 asylum claims, and it is likely that there will be 36,000 of them by the end of the year. If this continues, by the end of 2021, the wait time for an asylum hearing could reach 11 years.

Increase in illegal immigration

The fact that Canada’s Safe Third Country Agreement disqualifies asylum claimants who are seeking entry to Canada from the United States has had the unintended consequence of encouraging them to enter illegally at border areas between the ports of entry.   

The border between Canada and the United States is 3,987 miles long, wide open and largely undefended. It is not possible to determine how many asylum seekers are entering Canada illegally along that border. 

Conclusion

According to UNHCR, there are 22.5 million refugees, more than half of whom are under the age of 18. This is a crisis, and I do not have a solution to suggest, but I am sure that Trudeau’s tweet welcoming them to Canada isn’t the answer.

Nolan Rappaport was detailed to the House Judiciary Committee as an executive branch immigration law expert for three years; he subsequently served as an immigration counsel for the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims for four years. Prior to working on the Judiciary Committee, he wrote decisions for the Board of Immigration Appeals for 20 years.


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