Newspaper article The Canadian Press

2012 Law to Handle Illegal Border Crossers Sits Idle as Calls for Action Persist

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

2012 Law to Handle Illegal Border Crossers Sits Idle as Calls for Action Persist

Article excerpt

Law to handle illegal migration gathers dust

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OTTAWA - Provisions enacted by the previous Conservative government to handle illegal border-crossers are gathering dust as pressure persists on the Liberals for a response to waves of new asylum seekers.

But even as the Conservatives, now in Opposition, insist the government do something to deal with an influx of people improperly crossing into Canada to seek asylum, they've stopped short of calling for their own particular law to be the one enforced.

And in doing so, they've markedly shifted their tone from the days many Conservatives rushed to paint all illegal border-crossers as bogus asylum claimants eager to take advantage of Canadians.

"I'm very touched by what I'm looking at," said Quebec Conservative MP Gerard Deltell of the images of people coming across the border in the freezing cold, being assisted by the Mounties.

"But we also have to send a clear signal all around the world, for all of those who wish, would dream to come here in Canada and to live in Canada, that we must respect the procedure and we must respect the law."

The government is respecting the law, both the Liberals and immigration experts say -- the one that gives anyone in Canada the right to make a claim for asylum, a right upheld repeatedly by the courts.

Except you have to get here first, and that's become the political sticking point.

What appears to be a sudden influx of people illegally crossing into Canada -- as many as 22 on a single night last week -- is being pinned on the Safe Third Country Agreement with the U.S., which stipulates that those who cross into Canada from the U.S. at an official border point won't be allowed to make an asylum claim because they should have lodged one in the U.S.

In the aftermath of U.S. President Donald Trump's executive order pausing immigration from certain countries and refugee resettlement generally, there were immediate calls for Canada to suspend the deal on the grounds the U.S. was clearly no longer a safe place for asylum seekers.

The Liberals continue to say that's uneccessary as the asylum system in the U.S. is still functioning. As well, they say, the number of illegal crossings at the border is not actually that high. …

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