Why There’s No Cut and Dry Answer
The narrative that Canada is becoming overwhelmed by a sea of refugees crossing the borders is resurfacing. The goal of this unfounded narrative is to instill fear and alarm in the Canadian population. The fact of the matter is that the number of asylum seekers last year barely surpassed that of 2001. Furthermore, those who arrive illegally are apprehended by the authorities.
Canada’s economy and social fabric have remained intact over the past decade or more despite large numbers of immigrants and asylum seekers making their way to Canada.
More than 50,000 people came to Canada last year to claim asylum as refugees. That number is not much higher than it was in 2001. The influx of asylum seekers this year from the U.S. has some concerned that more people are entering Canada illegally and avoiding official border crossings, but this is not the case.
Two-thirds of the people who came to Canada last year came with valid visas and through official customs offices. Those who cross the border at locations such as Roxham Rd. are apprehended by the authorities until their refugee claims can be processed.
While others may argue that Canada has no international obligation to accept asylum seekers from the U.S., Canadian law does specify that refugees fleeing war and persecution have the right to present their case for asylum in Canada. Crossing a Canadian border at an unofficial crossing is not considered an illegal act because refugee law recognizes that people seeking safety and fleeing conflict may not always take the official channels to get to safety. These immigrants are called “irregular” rather than illegal.
Although the narrative among public opinion in Canada may be changing to create the appearance of a refugee crisis in this country, the overall acceptance rate of refugee claimants has not increased since larger numbers of asylum seekers have been coming to Canada last summer.
Some Canadians are concerned unnecessarily that refugee claimants are proving to be a strain on Canadian housing and services, but there are temporary shelters in place specifically for refugees so as not to clog the social housing system. Refugee claimants are also given a temporary work permit within 30 days so that they can start earning their own means to financially support themselves once they arrive in Canada.
It is irresponsible to cause panic and fear over information that does not necessarily mean there is a refugee crisis in Canada. The real refugee crisis is apparent in countries in Africa or the Middle East, not here in Canada where we have the means to accept the rates of refugees seeking safety here and where we have a system in place to ensure safety and security and an orderly process for approving the appropriate claimants.