Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen was warned in March that the flow of migrants entering Canada illegally risked turning into a larger problem — months before this week’s surge of border crossings began, documents obtained by CBC News show.
The briefing prepared for Hussen by his top bureaucrat in March noted the trends in illegal crossings were continuing “despite strong collaboration among Canadian agencies and with United States counterparts” and that a “major humanitarian or security event could create an urgent need to revisit existing policies.”
The memorandum prepared by deputy minister Marta Morgan came as Hussen prepared for a March 10 face-to-face meeting with then U.S. secretary of homeland security John F. Kelly in Ottawa. The documents were obtained by CBC News under the Access to Information Act.
But in an interview with CBC Radio’s The House, Hussen said the flow of migrants crossing illegally into Canada has not reached a crisis level that would demand significant policy change.
“What we are dealing with is definitely a very high, steady increase in numbers, and it is obviously taxing our agencies and our borders, but we are able to redeploy resources and personnel as needed and are able to deal with the situation as it unfolds,” Hussen told David Cochrane, guest host of The House.
In the month of January, the RCMP intercepted 245 asylum claimants illegally crossing into Canada from the United States near Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Que. This week, the number had grown to hundreds of migrants a day, a flow that is anticipated to increase.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau echoed Hussen’s reassurances during a scrum with reporters at an event near Ottawa on Friday, saying Canada has the resources and the capacity to deal with the sudden rise in asylum seekers.
Trudeau said Canada remains an open and compassionate country when it comes to refugees, and that staying that way requires making sure Canadians know that the system is working properly.
Kelly has since been named White House Chief of Staff by President Donald Trump.
Not a ‘mass arrival’
Despite the dramatic increase in asylum seekers crossing illegally in Quebec, Hussen told The House the current number of migrants entering Canada is not a “mass arrival” that demands a policy…