Thursday, March 21st, 2019
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Hussen claims Tories want to ‘militarize’ the border to stop flow of asylum seekers

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen says the Conservatives want to “militarize” the border with the United States in an attempt to stop the tens of thousands of asylum seekers who enter Canada between official points of entry – a charge the Tories deny.

Mr. Hussen’s accusation is the latest in an intensifying immigration debate between the governing Liberals and Opposition Conservatives ahead of the federal election later this year. Both parties are standing firm on their disparate plans to manage the arrival of more than 40,000 asylum seekers between official border crossings over the past two years and those who continue to enter Canada.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government says Canada has a responsibility under international law to provide the asylum seekers with the opportunity to seek protection in Canada, while the Tories say the refugee claimants are cheating the system by entering the country between authorized border crossings.



“I hope that they can bring concrete, reasonable proposals to the table.”

The minister’s comments infuriated the Conservatives, who have urged the government to take immediate action to stop the surge in asylum seekers at the border through negotiations with the United States. Tory immigration critic Michelle Rempel accused Mr. Hussen of “fear mongering” by suggesting that the Conservatives would “militarize” the border.

“Never have we suggested that at any point in time. And it is that kind of irresponsible commentary that is actually causing division in our country over immigration. It’s ridiculous,” Ms. Rempel told The Globe and Mail.

A spokesperson for Mr. Hussen later followed up with The Globe to say that the Minister was referring to how the Conservatives would handle the Safe Third Country Agreement, which forces Canada to accept asylum seekers who enter between unofficial points of entry. Press secretary Mathieu Genest said the minister meant that the Conservatives would resort to militarizing the border because Canada cannot change the agreement without the co-operation of the United States.

The agreement requires both countries to refuse entry to asylum seekers who arrive at official border crossings, as both countries are considered safe for refugees. However, asylum seekers can avoid being turned away by entering between official border crossings – a loophole thousands of people have taken advantage of.



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