CBSA officers say they have noticed some refugee claimants who have crossed into Canada irregularly are now acting as “anchor relatives” for family members, allowing their immediate and extended family members to cross at an official border entry and not be considered irregular migrants. RCMP officers patrol the border from Champlain, N.Y., into Canada, Wednesday May 9, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

2019 BUDGET: New $1B border strategy will get tough on irregular asylum seekers

More than 40,000 asylum seekers have crossed into the country ‘irregularly’ since 2017

The Liberal government is signalling its intent to stem the flow of asylum seekers crossing into Canada at unofficial entry points with a new border-enforcement strategy aimed at detecting, intercepting and removing irregular migrants.

A plan costing $1.18 billion over five years is promised in the 2019 federal budget to beef up border security and speed up the processing of asylum claims.

Canada wants to maintain its reputation as a fair and welcoming country, but one that is also governed by the rule of law, said Finance Minister Bill Morneau.

“We will invest in a comprehensive border enforcement strategy to better detect and intercept people who cross into Canada irregularly and those that attempt to exploit our immigration system,” Morneau said in his budget speech Tuesday.

The budget includes more money for the Canada Border Services Agency and the RCMP to strengthen security and law enforcement at the border.

New money will also be added to speed up processing of refugee claims, with a plan to complete 50,000 claims per year. The influx of irregular migrants, together with an overall increase in refugee claims in Canada, has led to a major backlog of claims at the Immigration and Refugee Board. New claimants are waiting up to two years to have their cases heard — unable to fully begin new lives in Canada if they’re entitled to, or lingering in Canada longer than they should if they aren’t.

A pilot project last year to streamline refugee cases at the pre-hearing stage will be expanded as part of the new measures announced Tuesday.

READ MORE: As deficit grows, feds spend on job retraining, home incentives

Three new Federal Court judges will also be added to ensure faster processing of appeals by asylum-seekers whose claims are rejected. New resources will also be added for immigration and refugee legal aid.

More than 40,000 asylum seekers have crossed into the country via the Canada-U.S. border “irregularly” since 2017 — avoiding official border checkpoints where they would have been turned back to the U.S. under the Safe Third Country agreement between the two countries.

The numbers have sparked calls for Canada to suspend or amend the agreement as a way to stop the flow of irregular migrants. The Conservatives regularly blame the influx of irregular migrants on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, pointing to a tweet he published in early 2017 welcoming refugees to Canada.

Immigration is promising to be a key issue in the upcoming federal election, with some provinces — notably Quebec and Ontario — calling on Ottawa to provide them with hundreds of millions of dollars for housing and social-services costs they estimate they’ve incurred as a result of the increase in refugees.

While no money is earmarked in the budget for provincial immigration costs, new spending has been set aside for a new anti-racism strategy.

“Around the world, ultranationalist movements have emerged. In Canada, those groups are unfairly targeting new Canadians, racialized individuals and religious minorities, threatening the peace and security and civility of the communities we call home,” the budget document says.

Ottawa plans to spend $45 million over three years, starting this year, on a new anti-racism secretariat. Details of the work of this new body are to be announced later, but it will include a strong focus on community-based projects.

Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Shots fired during Sylvan Lake and area crime spree

Sylvan Lake RCMP worked with other agencies to arrest four over the long weekend

Sylvan Lake McDonald’s raises more than $5,000 during McHappy Day

Year to date, the Sylvan Lake location has raised over $13,000 through fundraising efforts

Red Deer County firefighters dispatched to High Level

Four crew members and a fire engine are assisting in battling the out of control wild fire

Sylvan Lake family ‘humbled’ by support as son undergoes cancer treatment

Zane Baker was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2017 and will now travel to Florida for treatment

Sylvan Lake increases Municipal Enforcement activity along lakefront

With more activity in the downtown and lakefront area, officers will be more visible during summer

VIDEO: Canadian breaks women’s world record for longest plank

Dana Glowacka, of Montreal, held a plank for four hours and 20 minutes

New poll suggests one-third don’t want politicians to wear religious symbols

Local politicians shouldn’t be allowed to wear hijabs, crucifixes or turbans on the job, survey suggests

Raptors fans far from home adjust plans to watch pivotal playoff game

Raptors currently lead the playoff series 3-2, and a win Saturday would vault them into NBA finals

Alberta NDP cries foul as Speaker Cooper names new legislature clerk

Shannon Dean will replace Merwan Saher as the clerk of the assembly effective immediately

‘Her life mattered:’ New trial ordered in death of Indigenous woman Cindy Gladue

In a 4-3 decision, Supreme Court said evidence about Cindy Gladue’s sexual history was mishandled

Emergency funds for High Level evacuees to start flowing by Monday

About 5,000 people in High Level and surrounding communities have been out of their homes for a week

Five takeaways from the Court of Appeal ruling on B.C.’s pipeline law

It’s unclear how many tools are left in B.C.’s toolbox to fight the project

No-vote option: Alberta legislature changing rules to allow MLAs to abstain

The changes are expected to pass, given that Kenney’s party has a majority of seats

Scheer says it would take Conservatives five years to balance budget

Scheeraccused the Liberal government of spending $79.5 billion of previously unbudgeted funds

Most Read