It’s probably too late for a crackdown on border-hoppers

Ottawa won’t act now for fear of offending the Trump administration

It’s not a flood — yet — but the river of refugees coming to Canada continues to rise. Since January 1, the RCMP has intercepted 1,860 migrants crossing illegally into Canada from the United States: 315 in January, 658 in February and 887 in March.

Most of those have crossed into Quebec, near Lacolle, and Manitoba, near Emerson. Last Friday, Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch visited Emerson and pledged to take a much harder line on the issue should she become Tory leader.

“Individuals that enter our country illegally should be detained, should be questioned and sent back to the United States,” Leitch told the CBC. “Illegal migration is unfair to those who apply properly and legally.”

No kidding. But unless Leitch intends to change the law, she’s making a hollow promise — just more red meat for the base she’s courting with her ‘Canadian values test’ for immigrants.

The migrants crossing into Canada may be breaking the law, but once they’re here, they can’t be turned back. They have the right to claim asylum, thanks to a loophole in the Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States.

And while there are good reasons to close that loophole, it’s hard to see why any Canadian prime minister would be in rush to do so in the current cross-border political climate. With NAFTA negotiations looming, President Donald Trump snarling about Canada beating up on defenceless American dairy farmers and ‘Buy American’ back in fashion in Washington, taking action on the border now could put our trading relationship in deeper jeopardy.

Consider this: It appears that U.S. border agents actually may be facilitating these illegal crossings. According to Jean-Pierre Fortin, president of the union representing Canadian border officials, “(border officers) are convinced that Americans are ridding themselves of the problem by bringing asylum seekers to Roxham Road instead of driving them to the Lacolle border crossing.”

Read the full article on iPolitics.

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