Over the weekend we looked at a spot of trouble that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has run into on the illegal immigration front. There are significant numbers of primarily Nigerian “tourists” who are obtaining visitor visas to come to the United States and then promptly heading to an obscure, unofficial border crossing on the northern end of New York state. Once there, they cross into Canada illegally and request refugee status. Up until now, the Canadians have claimed it as a point of pride to quickly accept and resettle the new arrivals while bashing President Trump for his “immigrant unfriendly” policies. But now Canada is running out of room and resources to take them all in and the Prime Minister would like us to do a better job of screening them.
That announcement provoked a lot of questions for Trudeau in his country’s Parliament yesterday. People were demanding answers as to how the situation has gotten so far out of hand and what Trudeau planned to do about it. All he seemed to have for an answer is that it’s the fault of the United States. (Reuters)
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his ministers faced questions in parliament on Tuesday a day after Reuters reported that Canada wants the legal authority to turn back thousands of asylum seekers crossing the border illegally.
A Canadian official familiar with the matter told Reuters that Canada wants to amend a bilateral agreement to allow it to block border-crossing refugee claimants but that the United States is not cooperating.
Under the Safe Third Country Agreement, or STCA, asylum seekers who arrive at a formal Canada-U.S. border crossing going in either direction are turned back and told to apply for asylum in the first country they arrived in.
Canada wants the agreement rewritten to apply to the entire border.
This question is no longer limited to simply the Nigerian asylum applicants. Canada is vast in territory, but tiny compared to the United States when it comes to population and resources. There are simply too many people taking advantage of their widely advertised generosity and now the legislature wants Trudeau to do something about it. He’s hoping to rely on the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA), a deal reached between the U.S. and Canada which says that asylum seekers should petition the first safe country they arrive in for asylum before moving on to another nation.
But here’s the catch: the agreement only applies to migrants presenting themselves for admission at a legal border crossing station. It doesnt’ apply to those entering either country illegally. And while that crossing in upstate New York may look like a sanctioned crossing station since Canada set up trailers and help desks to assist all the new arrivals, it’s not an actual border crossing. The people walking across at that location are still technically emigrating from the United States illegally. But it remains a unique situation because the Canadians haven’t been turning them away and we obviously have no incentive to stop them from leaving.
Trudeau would like the United States to alter the STCA so it also applies to people crossing the border illegally. That way they can turn them back in good conscience and tell them they need to apply for refugee status in the U.S. But why would we do that? We’ve got too many to deal with as it is. Trudeau is the one who put out the welcome mat for the entire planet so it should be up to him to figure out how to deal with them.
While we’re on the subject of the STCA there’s a pertinent exit question which deserves an answer. Why don’t we have that sort of firm agreement with Mexico? Trump has been pushing for just such an agreement to be included during the renegotiation of NAFTA. He needs to push harder. If we can put that deal in place and declare Mexico a safe third country, then we don’t need to worry about any more “caravan” incidents. Anyone arriving at the U.S. border after having traveled through Mexico can simply be told to apply for refugee status back there.