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

Over 200 lives saved in first year at Victoria’s supervised consumption site

The Harbour celebrates its first anniversary with a report of zero deaths on site

Greater Victoria group helps low-income, at-risk seniors stay safe

Victoria chapter of 100+ Women Who Care donate $30,300 to Eldercare Foundation

Victoria businesses remain plastic-bag free, despite court ruling

Business association says no one has inquired into re-establishing the use of plastic bags

Views, brews and food on Gulf Islands craft beer cruise

Five day cruise from Sidney to Gulf Islands, includes chef and beer historian

Researchers head out from Sidney to explore Canada’s largest underwater volcano

The Explorer Seamount is as large as Greater Vancouver and full of previously undiscovered species

VIDEO: Dashcam video captures moment Victoria cyclist struck

Police seeking cyclist captured in video

Asylum figures show overall slower rate of irregular crossings into Canada

Between January and June 2019, a total of 6,707 asylum seekers crossed irregularly into Canada

U.S. tug firm to be sentenced for 2016 spill in B.C. First Nation’s territory

he Nathan E. Stewart spilled 110,000 litres of diesel and heavy oils in October 2016

Wolves not to blame for Island’s declining deer population, says researcher

Forestry practices, not predation, blamed for reduced numbers in prey animals

Youth seen with gun at Nanaimo mall, suspect now in custody

Woodgrove Centre shut down during police incident

B.C. man dies from rabies after contact with Vancouver Island bat

Last known case of human rabies in B.C. was 16 years ago

Crown recommends up to two-year jail term for former Bountiful leader

Crown says sentence range should be 18 months to two years for Bountiful child removal case

VIDEO: Wolf spotted swimming ashore on northern Vancouver Island

Island wolf population estimated at under 150 in 2008, says VI-Wilds

Diversity a Canadian strength, Trudeau says of Trump tweets at congresswomen

Trudeau avoided using Trump’s name when he was asked about the president’s Twitter comments

Most Read