File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS A group of asylum seekers arrive at the temporary housing facilities at the border crossing in St. Bernard-de-Lacolle, Que. Thousands of asylum seekers came into Canada illegally across the Canada-U.S. border in the first quarter of the year, but only a fraction were removed from the country during that time.

Canada has removed only a fraction of thousands of illegal border crossers

OTTAWA — Government data shows thousands of asylum seekers came into Canada illegally across the Canada-U.S. border through last year and the first quarter of this year, but only a fraction were removed from the country during that time.

Between Jan. 1, 2017 and March 31, 2018 only 135 individuals who made an asylum claim following an irregular entry were removed from the country, says information provided to the Commons committee on immigration.

During that same period, more than 5,000 asylum seekers arrived through unofficial entry points.

The government says border officials can only remove failed refugee claimants after they have exhausted all legal options available to try for refugee status, including applications to the Immigration and Refugee Board, appeals and other administrative measures.

“Everyone ordered removed from Canada is entitled to due process before the law,” said Scott Bardsley, press secretary for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale.

“Once individuals have exhausted all legal avenues of appeal/due process, they are expected to respect our laws and leave Canada or be removed.”

But while the Canada Border Services Agency makes every effort to remove as many ineligible asylum claimants as possible, the vast majority of irregular border crossers are not ‘removal ready,’ Bardsley added.

This could be because of a lack of travel documents, health concerns or travel restrictions.

Opposition immigration critic Michelle Rempel says she believes government is not doing enough to plan for an orderly immigration system and should be taking further measures to step up claims processing and removals so that irregular migrants do not wait in Canada for years as their asylum claims are processed.

She pointed to statements made by Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen indicating more than 90 per cent of irregular migrants from Haiti have had their asylum claims rejected.

If that’s true, at the current rate it could be “decades” before all removals of illegal border crossers are complete, Rempel said

“I think it’s a situation of both false hope and costs to the Canadian taxpayer in terms of making sure that people are fed and housed when they’re in Canada during this time that is concerning,” she said.

“To me it just shows the fact that government is not adequately managing the situation.”

The government says it is working to improve things.

In this year’s federal budget, the border agency was given $7.46 million to ensure that once rejected refugee claimants have exhausted all legal avenues of appeal, they can be removed promptly.

“Obviously, the requirements of due process need to be adhered to, but there have been some procedural changes that have been implemented,” Goodale told the House of Commons immigration committee last week.

“We’re also working very hard to get greater international co-operation on the necessary travel documents that need to be obtained in every case of the removal.”

Just Posted

Sunny weather improves farmers’ prospects

A harvester kicking up dust. It’s a picture that will bring a… Continue reading

Rural transit pilot project being considered

Penhold, Innisfail and Red Deer County councils to decide whether to go ahead with project

Red Deer fire station up for sale

Home sweet home at Fire Station 4

Most surveyed Innisfail residents give urban chickens the thumbs up

Town of Innisfail will discuss whether to allow backyard chickens on Monday

‘Mom I’m in trouble:’ Canadian, Brit face 10 years in jail for alleged graffiti

GRANDE PRAIRIE, Alta. — The mother of a Canadian who was arrested… Continue reading

Coyote on the prowl near Penhold

This coyote was out on the prowl in a field just west… Continue reading

Sky’s the limit as Calgary opens testing area for drones and new technologies

CALGARY — The sky’s the limit as the city of Calgary opens… Continue reading

Hi Mickey, ‘Bye Mickey: 6 Disney parks on 2 coasts in 1 day

ORLANDO, Fla. — Heather and Clark Ensminger breathed sighs of relief when… Continue reading

Court weighs ‘Apprentice’ hopeful’s suit versus Trump

NEW YORK — President Donald Trump’s lawyers hope to persuade an appeals… Continue reading

StarKist admits fixing tuna prices, faces $100 million fine

SAN FRANCISCO — StarKist Co. agreed to plead guilty to a felony… Continue reading

Annual pace of inflation slows to 2.2 per cent in September: Statistics Canada

OTTAWA — The annual pace of inflation slowed more than expected in… Continue reading

Jury finds Calgary couple guilty in 2013 death of toddler son

CALGARY — A jury has convicted a Calgary couple in the death… Continue reading

Most Read