Asylum seekers travelling north from the U.S. are creating headaches for both countries
First, it was a joke.
With every U.S. election, a variety of Democrat dim bulbs in the Hollywood constellation declare if their favored candidate doesn’t win, they will move to Canada.
Thus, at various times, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and in 2016, Donald Trump, prompted such media announcements. (Republicans never said they would leave the United States.)
Of course, these Democrats didn’t leave America — to the amusement of Republicans who would have happily provided them bus fare.
Subsequently, there were a number of vignettes humorously hypothesizing on the fate of those benighted souls seeking refuge in Canada.
Supposedly, they were scaring the livestock and, when discovered making their way across the border (Canada being considerably colder than California), asked for Perrier water, a latte, and vegan nourishment, before being moved to refugee camps.
Since Trump’s inauguration and his commitment to enforce the law to remove individuals illegally in the United States, there have been some harrowing tales of border crossers.
Media have featured families and individuals hiking across the Canada-U.S. boundary (see photo), some with suitcases, others with just the clothes on their backs.
They have been met by smiling RCMP officers and accommodating Canadian officials.
Media images of these crossings, some during snow storms, have to some extent conquered rational decision-making with regard to border security.
This is happening because of a loophole in the regulations governing asylum seekers
To prevent “refugees” moving from country-to-country shopping for the best social accommodations, the “safe third country” rule permits immediate deportation and return if an individual appears at an official crossing point from a “safe third country” (which the United States is, for Canada, and vice versa).
However, if an individual slips across the border at other than an official crossing point, he or she can claim refugee status and not be subject to deportation.
Initial analysis of some of those arriving at unmanned border crossings, notably from Saudi Arabia, indicates they held legitimate visas issued by the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh.
They planned to use the U.S. as a jumping off point to reach Canada and its more congenial social circumstances.
The Canadian media have projected “sky is falling” scenarios, predicting once the snow melts, refugees will flood north, but probably not in sufficient numbers to dent the 11 million illegals already burrowed into the United States.
That said, some tiny communities near the unofficial crossing points have already been stressed providing assistance to these border crossers.
But other than filling media air time and stoking the sensibilities of Canadians who see the “age of Trump” generating persecution of the innocent (while virtuous Canada plays host to the “wretched refuse of your teeming shore”), one might suggest some sober second thought.
Such realism has been evinced by senior Canadian officials, who have announced they see no need to tighten the border or interfere with current procedures.
Nor do they believe existing border patrol forces need expansion.
Ottawa, however, will provide additional funding to supplement the budgets of those communities enduring a sudden influx of border crossers.
What is of particular interest to Ottawa and Washington is the origin of these individuals and whether they have pending criminal trials and/or outstanding deportation orders from the United States.
There is also the unmentioned concern of criminals and potential terrorists moving south and accessing the same unguarded routes now exploited by illegals heading north.
U.S. border security officials know that while none of the 9/11 terrorists entered from Canada, they could easily have done so.
Ignored in media commentary is previous Canadian experience with Vietnam era draft dodgers and deserters fleeing the United States.
Estimates vary wildly, ranging from 20,000 to 125,000, with reportedly upwards of 50% remaining in Canada despite a “pardon” offered by then president Jimmy Carter in 1977.
As draft dodgers were frequently college-educated and liberal, they settled in urban areas, notably Toronto, where they reinforced the animus of liberal Canadians to all things American.
One doubts the current refugee levels will approach the Vietnam era flood and certainly not the refugee levels Europeans are facing.
Still, it is salutatory for Canadians to get a taste of the “illegals” problems faced by the United States for the past generation.
Jones is a retired senior U.S. State Department diplomat who served as political minister counsellor at the U.S. embassy in Ottawa. A version of this column first appeared in the Epoch Times.