Government updates on Asylum Seekers
It is a story polarizing Canadians across the country, and this week the Federal and Provincial governments have been clarifying their immigration policies.
According to Quebec Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil, over 3,307 asylum seekers were in temporary residences across Quebec – with more than 1,000 at the border who are waiting to be processed. The number of people coming in is unprecedented and although contrary to the assertion of some people, the government has not been sitting idly by and allowing people to enter Canada haphazardly. Due process has to take place – and that is what is being done. Each asylum seeker has a right to a hearing before a judge in order to attain refugee status – and it is expected many of those recently crossing over the border into the country will be refused and sent back to the United States.
At a morning news conference Thursday August 17th in Lacolle QC, Louis Dumas, spokesperson for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada repeated that Canada strongly discourages people from entering outside of regular ports of entry – and also said that asylum seekers are permitted to make a case for refugee status through a ‘well-established and effective process’.
In the meantime, Canadian consulates in the United States have been told ‘to set the record straight about Canada’s immigration policies as the flow of asylum seekers continues unabated’.
“We have mobilized them to get in touch with different groups that might be considering coming to Canada so they can clearly explain the rules in place and the criteria that must be met before being able to come,” Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau said on August 15th.
This past week, Minister Weils also urged Ottawa to help with additional temporary housing for asylum seekers. She also wants to see the work permit process sped up, as the majority of the asylum seekers are people who actually want to work. Their goal is not about taxing our welfare system, contrary to the critics who claim their goal is to come to Canada for a ‘free ride’.
Lawyer Eric Taillefer said he wasn’t surprised by Weil’s demands for more housing and work permits and that speeding up the permits is to both the Federal and Provincial governments’ advantage.
“The provincial government is trying to find the most efficient way of managing the situation. I think they know a lot of that can be done by the Federal government,” he added. “It means less welfare to distribute and more people paying taxes, so it’s a big gain… it’s all these people are asking – to contribute to the system that’s welcoming them, so as soon as they can work, they’ll be happy to.”
Although there has been word the government will move to house some of the asylum seekers outside of Quebec while the processing takes place, it is still unclear on what actions will be taken – but Minister Marc Garneau did announce this Thursday that an intergovernmental task force has been formed to handle the thousands of asylum seekers crossing into Canada at the temporary camp at the St-Bernard-de-Lacolle point of entry.
For now, Canada will remain true to its very foundation, a foundation built solely on immigration – even if some critics of the urgent situation have seem to have forgotten.