Between ports of entry, Canada is not well-resourced to confront a potential increase in refugee claimants crossing from the United States, says Christian Leuprecht – but deploying more resources at the border is not necessarily the answer
OTTAWA, Feb. 24, 2017 – Macdonald-Laurier Institute Munk Senior Fellow Christian Leuprecht is available to comment on measures Canada should be taking to mitigate the looming challenge to the integrity of its borders that the increased flow of refugees poses.
Leuprecht was prescient in detailing many of the issues facing the Canada-US border – and what needs to be done – in a 2013 paper he co-authored (with Todd Hataley) for MLI.
The problem, he says, is that, in theory, Ottawa’s border strategy is premised on a common security perimeter with the United States. In practice, Canada’s implementation of this plan, originally announced in 2011 as the Beyond the Border agreement, has been tepid, haphazard, and bereft of the required coordination and resources.
Migrants crossing the border illegally between ports of entry is not a new phenomenon. However, policy changes by the new Trump administration in the US are fuelling a rise in potential refugee claimants looking to circumvent the safe third country agreement in this way. Canada is ill-prepared should the current flow of migrants rise steeply as the weather warms and the removal tempo in the US ramps up.
Many of the estimated 12 million undocumented people in the United States will try to stay, but if even a relatively small fraction were to head North, it would pose an unprecedented challenge to Canada’s refugee and immigration system.
Canada needs a plan. Leuprecht’s MLI report from 2013 details what much of that plan looks like.
Christian Leuprecht is Professor in the Department of Political Science at the Royal Military College of Canada, and cross-appointed to the Department of Political Studies and the School of Policy Studies at Queen’s University. He is a Senior Fellow with the Macdonald-Laurier Institute
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