Asylum seekers line up to enter Olympic Stadium Friday, August 4, 2017 near Montreal, Quebec. Canadian border officials are preparing for another expected spike in asylum seekers coming illegally into the country through Quebec and Ontario from the U.S. as the weather gets warmer. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Canada’s border service has removed fewer than 900 of 45,000 ‘irregular’ asylum-seekers

Since early 2017, more than 45,000 migrants have arrived in Canada irregularly

The Canada Border Services Agency has removed fewer than 900 “irregular” asylum-seekers who have applied for refugee protection in Canada through a loophole in asylum laws, according to new federal figures.

Since early 2017, more than 45,000 migrants have arrived in Canada irregularly by entering the country mainly through a forest path between New York State and Quebec, avoiding official border checkpoints where they would be turned away and told to file refugee claims in the United States.

So far, only 866 have been removed from Canada after their refugee claims were rejected, according to figures tabled recently in the House of Commons.

The number is low is because removal orders can only be enforced once a refugee claimant has exhausted all legal avenues to try to remain in the country, said Marie-Emmanuelle Cadieux, a spokeswoman for Border Security Minister Bill Blair.

“Prior to removal, individuals may seek leave for judicial review, as well as administrative review procedures that assess the potential risk to the person of returning to their country of origin,” she said in a statement Friday.

“Everyone ordered removed from Canada is entitled to due process before the law and all removal orders are subject to various levels of appeal.”

Canada began experiencing an influx of irregular asylum seekers in early 2017, after U.S. President Donald Trump announced he would end a program that offers temporary protected status to migrants from several countries, serving notice he would seek to return them to homelands that had previously been considered too dangerous.

By avoiding official border crossings when entering Canada, these migrants take advantage of a loophole in Canada’s “Safe Third Country Agreement” with the United States that allows people who are already on Canadian soil to make refugee claims. The agreement would otherwise see them turned back to the U.S., a country Canada considers safe for them.

The Trudeau Liberals have called these individuals “irregular” migrants, rather than “illegal” — the term regularly used by the Conservatives.

Their refugee claims are processed by the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) — an arm’s-length tribunal. The IRB has built up a major backlog in trying to process the rush of new claims over the last two years. This, too, is a factor in the length of time it has taken for those without valid claims to be removed by the border-services agency.

Figures posted online show the IRB has only processed 33 per cent of the refugee claims it has received from irregular migrants since 2017. Of those, 6,885 people have been accepted for refugee protection and 5,650 have been rejected. Another 1,322 claims have been abandoned or withdrawn. Tens of thousands remain in a queue, waiting to be processed.

Meanwhile only 30 per cent of the 4,700 appeals of these decisions have been finalized.

Even if their appeals are unsuccessful, refugee claimants may also be entitled to pre-removal risk assessments to determine whether sending them back to their home countries might put them in danger.

Missing travel documents and medical issues can also delay removals.

Cadieux says the decision to remove someone from Canada is “not taken lightly.”

However, CBSA is required by law to enforce removal orders as soon as possible once all avenues of appeal have been explored.

“Everyone ordered removed has been given due process, but once legal avenues have been exhausted, individuals are expected to respect our laws and leave Canada, or, as per our commitments, be removed.”

Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

CN train derailment cleared between Terrace and Prince Rupert

The CN mainline is now open, following a train derailment mid-way between… Continue reading

President and CEO leaving Coast Mountain College

Burt will say goodbye to CMNT come September

UPDATE: Downed power pole shuts down Petro-Canada

Business operator says Waste Management was responsible for the incident

Fire burns down barn and workshop near Tyhee Lake

Owner Martin Hennig estimates around $200,000 in uninsured losses after the buildings burned down.

Portugese national concertmaster headlines classical music festival

Spirit of the North festival will feature internationally-renowned musicians to local kids

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

Body, burning truck found near northern B.C. town

RCMP unsure if the two separate discoveries are related

Couple found dead along northern B.C. highway in double homicide

Woman from the U.S. and man from Australia found dead near Liard Hot Springs

UPDATE: West Kelowna fawn euthanized, not claimed by sanctuary

Gilbert the deer has been euthanized after a suitable home was not found in time

BC Wildfire Service warns wet weather no reason to be complacent

Fire risk currently low for much of B.C. compared to same time over last two years.

Bank of Canada lowers qualifying rate used in mortgage stress tests

Home sales softened last year after the federal government introduced new stress test rules for uninsured mortgages

B.C. man pleads guilty in snake venom death of toddler

Plea comes more than five years after the incident in North Vancouver

Trudeau says Ottawa open to proposals for B.C. refinery as gas prices soar

Prime minister says he knows B.C. residents are struggling and the federal government is open to ideas

Clock’s ticking to share how you feel about Daylight Saving Time in B.C.

Provincial public survey ends at 4 p.m. on Friday

Most Read