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Ottawa “tightens the noose” on simple visitors seeking asylum, says Marc Miller

Photo: Adrian Wyld The Canadian Press “There is some additional tightening to be done,” admits Minister Miller.

Émilie Bergeron – The Canadian Press in Ottawa

Posted at 8:04 a.m.

  • Canada

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) “has taken several measures to tighten the noose internally” in the face of an increase in asylum applications made by foreign nationals who arrived in the country on visitor visas, says the minister Marc Miller, assuring that other actions will come.

“There is work, there is a certain tightening of the noose to be done additionally”, a- he said during a recent interview with The Canadian Press.

Mr. Miller said the ministry he is responsible for is already making adjustments due to a “surge” in cases where visas “particularly from India or Bangladesh” have been used.

“This is not the way to do things if you claim to come here to travel or whatever the reason, so there is internal work that is being done at that level,” said said the Montreal elected official during the interview in his office on Parliament Hill.

More and more foreign nationals are claiming asylum after setting foot in Canada on a visitor visa. Their monthly number quintupled from April 2023 to April 2024, the daily La Presse reported earlier this month.

IRCC provided The Canadian Press data showing that the number of people holding a “temporary resident visa” or “visitor visa” and having requested asylum in Canada actually increased from 1815 to 10,170.

The ministry clarified that, “at the time of application, all applicants for status temporary resident must convince an officer that they have sufficient ties to their country of origin, particularly with regard to their family and economic situation, and that they will leave Canada when their status expires.”

“Some temporary residents come to Canada as genuine visitors, students or workers and then choose to seek asylum due to developments in their country of origin,” it added.

However, when speaking of the influx of asylum seekers observed for several years — regardless of how they arrive in Canada — Minister Miller maintained that “this does not cannot continue given the volume we are seeing.”

A new committee was created to look into this trend, as well as the interprovincial distribution of applicants for asylum, and must carry out work during the summer.

Stop the increase in requests

The “tightening of the noose” mentioned by the minister will be on the agenda “of the working group”, he said, also referring to the discussions, in the broader sense, with his provincial counterparts.

Since his June 10 meeting with his federal counterpart, Justin Trudeau, Quebec Premier François Legault has been demanding that Ottawa reduce the number of asylum seekers in Quebec by 50%. He is also asking for a similar reduction for temporary foreign workers from the International Mobility Program.

Messrs. Trudeau and Miller have since responded that they must first receive a plan from the province. Nevertheless, Ottawa has committed to promoting the voluntary movement of asylum seekers living in Quebec to other Canadian provinces.

In February, the federal government granted a request from Legault – also made by many others – to reinstate the visa requirement for Mexican travelers. Justin Trudeau's Liberals removed this requirement in 2016.

The return of the visa requirement “has reduced asylum seekers by 98% in recent months coming from Mexico”, affirmed Mr. Trudeau after his meeting with Mr. Legault.

When announcing this change of policy which had upset the Mexican government, Mr. . Miller had opened the door to tightening visa requirements for visitors from other countries.

Questioned about this, four months later, the minister remained vague.

In any case, the “internal” adjustments he mentioned, giving the example of India and Bangladesh will not have the same impact as the return of visa requirements for Mexicans, he warned.

“The challenge is that it will not make the same difference […] obviously because these two countries now already have visas which are prerequisites. »

When Mr. Trudeau emphasized the impact of the reimposition of visas for Mexican visitors, he also took the opportunity to congratulate his government for having plugged the Roxham Road gap in March 2023, by putting in place, with the United States, a new version of the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA).

Before the renegotiation of this agreement, the STCA ensured that a potential refugee submitting an asylum claim on Canadian soil would be turned back if he or she had first set foot on American soil and if he or she submitted his or her claim after passing through an official border crossing.

Thus, people who still wanted to request asylum in Canada crossed the border via makeshift crossings such as Chemin Roxham, in Montérégie. Once they had officially set foot in the country, their asylum application could be processed.

According to the new EPTS, return to the first “safe country” » occurs regardless of whether the asylum seeker entered through an official or unofficial border crossing. In other words, the terms of the agreement provide that it is applied uniformly across all 8,900 km of the Canada-US border.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116