MS Risk Blog

Poll: Almost Half of Canadians Want Illegal Border Crossers to be Deported

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According to a new Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll released late last month, nearly half of Canadians want to deport people who are illegally crossing into Canada from the United States. Furthermore, a similar number disapprove of how Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is handling the influx.

In recent months, the increasing flow of hundreds of asylum-seekers of African and Middle Eastern origin from the United States has become a contentious issue in Canada. The new poll states that a significant minority, four out of ten respondents, indicated that the border crossers could make the country less safe, underlining the potential political risk for Trudeaus Liberal government.

It further indicates that Canadians appear to be just as concerned about illegal immigration as their American neighbours, with the poll stating that some 48 percent indicated that they supported increasing the deportation of people living in Canada illegally. When asked specifically about the recent border crossings, the same number 48 percent, indicated that Canada should Send these migrants back to the US, while 36 percent indicated that Canada should accept these migrants. In the poll, support for deportations was strongest amongst men, adults lacking a college degree, people who are older and those with higher levels of income. According to the poll, forty-six percent of Canadians feel that the influx would have no effect on safety, while 41 percent indicated that it would make the country less safe. Janet Dench, executive director for Canadian Council for Refugees notes that refugees are much more welcomed when we have gone and selected them ourselves as a country, as opposed to refuges who have chosen us.

Of those polled, 46 percent disagreed with how the prime minister was handling the situation, with 37 percent agreeing and 17 percent indicating that they di not know. In January, a separate Ipsos poll found that 59 percent of Canadians approved of Prime Minister Trudeau while 41 percent disapproved.

Illegal migrants interviewed by Reuters in Canada disclosed that they had been living legally in the United States and had applies for asylum there however they fled over fears of being enmeshed in the Trump administrations immigration crackdown.

While for decades, there has been broad bipartisan support for high levels of legal immigration in Canada, Prime Minister Trudeau has come under pressure over the flow of illegal migrants. Every time he appears in Parliament, Mr Trudeau is questioned about the issue by opponents on the left, who want more asylum seekers to be allowed in, and critics on the right who say that the migrants pose a potential security risk. Kellie Leitch, a prominent contender to be the leader of the official opposition right-leaning Conservative Party, disclosed that the opinion poll results reinforced her belief that Canadians did not want Ottawa to accept the asylum-seekers. Mr Trudeau however faces no immediate threat, as the next elections are not due to take place until 2019.

Officials however have already warned that the number of illegal migrants crossing the border could increase as the weather improves. Authorities have also dismissed the idea that they being lax, with Dan Brien, a spokesman for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, stating that trying to slip across the border is not a free ticket to Canada, noting that all the asylum-seekers are immediately arrested. When asked about the latest poll, Brien disclosed if they are found to be inadmissible without a valid claim, deportation procedures are begun, adding that those who cannot be identified, are a flight risk or pose a public danger can be detained.

A separate Ipsos poll in Canada has indicated that 23 percent of Canadians listed immigration control as being amongst the top national issues in March, up from 17 percent in December 2016. It ranks behind healthcare, taxes, unemployment and poverty, which are all top concerns.

Ottawa has set an immigration target of 300,000 for 2017 effectively just under 1 percent of the population. This is the same level as 2016. It reduced the 2017 target for resettled refugees to 25,000 from 44,8000 in 2016, a year when it welcomed 25,000 Syrian refugees.