Irregular border crossers from the U.S. to Canada remained above 2018 for the third consecutive month in August, the latest figures show.
The month saw 1,762 asylum seekers intercepted by the RCMP after crossing the Canadian border at an unrecognized point, compared to 1,747 in the same month last year.
It means that after the numbers appeared under control in the first five months of 2019, the next three months will be of more concern to federal officials.
Source: Government of Canada
The year to the end of August has seen 10,343 people cross the border from the U.S. at unrecognized points to attempt to enter the Canadian asylum system.
At the same point of 2018, 14,125 people had been intercepted, with a total of 19,419 interceptions made in the year as a whole.
The overwhelming majority of those who cross the border at unrecognized points do so into Quebec, into St Bernard De Lacolle.
In 2019, 10,076 of the 10,343 border crossers – or 97 percent – were intercepted in Quebec.
The situation has become an election issue ahead of Canada’s October 21 vote.
The incumbent Liberal government referencing it in its platform document, saying “we will … continue to work with the government of the United States to modernize the Safe Third Country Agreement”.
The bilateral agreement means that an asylum seeker has to claim refugee status in the first ‘safe’ country at which they arrive.
It means that asylum seekers arriving in the U.S. are not allowed to cross into Canada to claim refugee status. If they try to cross into Canada from the U.S. at recognized border points, they are turned back.
However, they are allowed to claim refugee status if they have already made it to Canada, which is why more than 40,000 crossed at irregular border points in 2017 and 2018 as they try to flee Donald Trump’s U.S. immigration crackdown.
The federal government sought to change the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to try and stop the flow of asylum seekers who enter the U.S.
The change, part of Bill C-97 that passed in June 2019, means asylum seekers who had previously made a refugee claim in another country could not then make a claim in Canada.
It means that asylum seekers who arrive in Canada having previously made a refugee claim in the U.S., are not eligible to seek asylum in Canada.