Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that Canada will not tolerate individuals who attempt to sidestep checkpoints when crossing the border. The government has faced increasing numbers of migrants fleeing from the US.
After meeting with federal and provincial immigration officials in Montreal on Wednesday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that the United States' northern neighbor would not tolerate individuals who attempt to cross the border illegally. However, he reiterated the message that Canada remained an open and tolerant country.
"Canada is an open and welcoming society because Canadians have confidence in our immigration system and have confidence that we are a country based on laws," Trudeau told reporters at a press conference. But he warned that," You will not be at an advantage if you choose to enter Canada irregularly. You must follow the rules and there are many."
New arrivals to Canada must face a tough screening process, Trudeau said, adding that he would create a task force to help manage the migrants who go through farmers' fields and woods to reach Quebec. He also announced he would bulk up staff at processing centers to speed up asylum claims.
There will be no "short-cutting," Trudeau said.
He also summed up his message on Twitter.
More irregular migrants
Trudeau's Montreal meeting addressed the increased numbers of irregular migrants from the US that have entered Quebec on foot during the summer, causing some Canadians to fear an asylum seeker surge.
The government set up temporary camps in Quebec and neighboring province Ontario after permanent facilities being used as shelters, including the Olympic station in Montreal, filled up.
Prime Minister Trudeau welcomed individuals seeking safety in January 2017. Above, he greets a refugee from Syria in 2015.
Since the start of this past July, some 6,000 individuals have sought to cross from the US into Canada by avoiding border checkpoints. Many of those irregular migrants – individuals whose movement does not meet regulatory norms – are Haitians who will face deportation from the US next year after President Donald Trump refused to extend temporary asylum to them. Around 60,000 Haitians fled to the US after a 2010 earthquake devastated the island nation.
In the hours before Trudeau's Montreal meeting, Conservative politician Michelle Rempel, the opposition's official immigration critic, accused the Canadian head of state of inviting a refugee influx with a January 2017 Tweet that said Canada would welcome those "fleeing persecution, terror and war."
While the prime minister's statement on Wednesday does not contradict his earlier message of welcome, his clarified stance on regular versus irregular migration could reflect the need for his Liberal party to build up support in Quebec ahead of national elections in 2019.
Montreal's Olympic stadium has been used to shelter refugees as their numbers have increased during the summer
cmb/rc (AFP, Reuters)