Scheer promises to stop illegal border crossings
Conservative leader Andrew Scheer has promised to end illegal border crossings by asylum seekers, adding his government would instead focus on economic immigration and help protect the refugees facing greatest danger. Speaking at a campaign event at Roxham Road, Quebec, Scheer said the flow of people coming to Canada outside border points has led to a “crisis in confidence” in the immigration system.
He said, “For Canadians to have faith in the immigration system, the rules have to be followed and the laws have to be enforced. As prime minister, that’s exactly what I will do.” The leader said his government would hire 250 new Canada Border Services Agency officers, deploy more Immigration and Refugee Board judges to “hotspots” to expedite claims, and closely monitor criminal groups that pose a threat to Canada, including MS-13 gang members.
When asked why raise the spectre of MS-13, he said it is important for law enforcement to track people with criminal backgrounds, trying to enter the country. “We want to make sure that when people come into Canada, we are putting the safety and security of Canadians first. That is paramount.” He said he would close the “loophole” in the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) by negotiating with the US for a new deal that benefits both countries.
Meanwhile, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau who was campaigning in Markham, said he’s pleased that people will have an opportunity to see the infrastructure the Liberal government built to screen and process new arrivals. The statement came ahead of Scheer’s announcement. Trudeau stressed there are no “shortcuts” in Canada’s immigration system and everyone is subject to the same rules.
He said, “There are no skipping steps with our immigration system. Everyone arriving in Canada goes through the same immigration system, a full, rigorous immigration system that is being applied.” The Prime Minister said Canada continues to work with partners in the US and around the world to spread that message, and talks continue on a possible update to the STCA.
As per the agreement, asylum seekers make their claim for protection in the first safe country they arrive in. It makes an exception for those who arrive in Canada outside of official border points. Trudeau said Canadians remain in favour of immigration because they understand it benefits the economy and their communities. He said, “It only stays positively supported by Canadians because they have confidence that our immigration system works. And it works.”
Meanwhile, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh said his party would suspend the STCA so that migrants would not need to cross outside of the official border points. He said, “These are people that are fleeing death. They’re fleeing persecution. And in the States, they’re fleeing the fact that Mr Trump has been putting kids in cages, has been stripping babies out of the arms of their mothers.” Singh added, “Of course, they’re afraid and they’re fleeing what they know is a scary situation in the States. And so right now they have no other recourse but to cross irregularly.”