Early Sunday morning, February 26, 2017, eight migrants from Somalia cross into Canada illegally from the United States by walking down this train track into the town of Emerson, Man., where they will seek asylum at Canada Border Services Agency. The Liberal government is taking steps to stem the tide of asylum seekers who’ve been crossing into Canada from the U.S. at unofficial border crossings. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

Budget bill would tighten loophole that encourages irregular border-crossing

The bill would stop anyone who made a refugee claim in the U.S. from making one in Canada

The Liberal government is taking steps to stem the tide of asylum seekers who’ve been crossing into Canada from the U.S. at unofficial border crossings.

Tucked into this year’s 392-page omnibus budget bill, which arrived in the House of Commons Monday evening, is a provision that would prevent anyone who has made a refugee claim in certain other countries from making another claim in Canada. The provision applies to claims made in countries with which Canada has information-sharing agreements.

Only a handful of countries qualify. The United States, through which all of the irregular border crossers pass, is one of them.

Mathieu Genest, a spokesman for Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, said the change’s primary effect is expected to be on people whose refugee claims have been rejected in the United States and who then try again in Canada.

The language says that just having made a claim is enough to be rendered ineligible, however.

The provision is based on the belief that Canada’s refugee system is similar enough to that of the U.S. that anyone rejected there is likely to be rejected here as well, Genest said.

People deemed ineligible to make a claim in Canada will not necessarily be deported to their homelands. Genest said they will still undergo a pre-removal risk assessment to determine if it is safe to send them back to their countries of origin.

Canada has a “Safe Third Country Agreement” with the U.S. that treats it as a place that’s equivalent to Canada for asylum claimants. If a would-be refugee arrives at a land-border crossing from the United States saying he or she wants to make a claim, border officers turn the person back. But the agreement has a loophole — it doesn’t apply to people who are already on Canadian soil when they make their claims.

That has prompted thousands of people who fear deportation from the United States to cross the Canadian border through fields and forests.

Many of them are from countries such as Haiti, whose citizens have had “temporary protected status” in the U.S. That status prevents them from being deported to dangerous places even if their individual claims aren’t accepted. Other countries on that list include Syria, Nepal, Somalia and Yemen.

Under President Donald Trump, the United States has been trying to shorten the list.

It first cut Haiti, Sudan, Nicaragua and El Salvador. The move has been halted by a court order, but it put tens of thousands of people on notice that they could be expelled from the U.S. and has helped touch off the northward flow of people.

Although the government’s budget bill is mostly about tax and spending measures, it includes numerous other provisions on everything from immigration to airport security, formally creating new departments for Indigenous affairs and changing the borders of national parks.

A similar omnibus bill last year included a measure letting prosecutors negotiate “deferred prosecution agreements” for corporations accused of certain crimes, setting the stage for the SNC-Lavalin affair that has beleaguered the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government for months.

READ MORE: New $1B border strategy will get tough on irregular asylum seekers

READ MORE: Jogger who crossed U.S. border accidentally a warning to Canadians

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Four fires still burning in West Kootenay

More than 25 fires were started by lightning in the last week.

OPINION: Kootenay tech sector is on the rise and everyone is noticing

Community Comment by Raghwa Gopal, president and CEO of Innovate BC

Nine fires burning in West Kootenay

All fires considered to be lightning caused.

Castlegar mayor releases FCM itinerary

Bruno Tassone delivers promised report on activities at Quebec City municipal conference

West Kootenay afternoon storms spark fires

Lots of thunder and lightning, and little rain, as system moves through region

VIDEO: Trans Mountain expansion project gets green light, again

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the decision in Ottawa on Tuesday afternoon

MPs hear retired B.C. nurse’s petition to change compensation for fatal medical errors

Teri McGrath wants provinces to implement no-fault system for medical errors

Horgan says he’ll still defend B.C. coast after second Trans Mountain approval

Meanwhile, one B.C. First Nation has announced plans for a legal challenge

Demonstrators on either side of Trans Mountain debate clash in Vancouver

Crowd heard from member of Indigenous-led coalition that hopes to buy 51% of expansion project

Police investigating fatal collision near Grave Lake

Grave Lake is located approximately halfway between Sparwood and Elkford

Grieving B.C. mom hopes Facebook message leads to new investigation into son’s Surrey homicide

Criminal Justice Branch didn’t lay charges, concluding no substantial likelihood of murder or manslaughter conviction

B.C.’s measles vaccination program gains traction in May

More than 15,000 doses of the MMR vaccine has been administered across the province

B.C. farmers concerned Agricultural Land Reserve changes choking their livelihood

Dozens voice concerns at special meeting hosted on Vancouver Island

UPDATE: Two-year-old involved in Chilliwack pool drowning has died

Toddler was reported to not be breathing as air ambulance called out Thursday afternoon

Most Read