Members of the Ad Hoc Intergovernmental Task Force
on Irregular Migration meet to discuss latest influx
April 19, 2018, Ottawa, ON – Members of the Ad Hoc Intergovernmental Task Force on Irregular Migration met for the ninth time yesterday to discuss continuing the close collaboration and better ways to address the increase of irregular migrants crossing into Canada over the last several weeks.
Federal Minister and Task Force Chair, Marc Garneau, began the meeting by reiterating the importance of ongoing federal and provincial collaboration in order to manage the influx with compassion and in accordance with Canadian law.
“Our exchanges today have demonstrated the importance of an open and continuing dialogue with our provincial partners. As we move forward, it’s imperative that we work together and build on the progress achieved in the last year,” said The Honourabe Marc Garneau, Chair of the Ad Hoc Intergovernmental Task Force on Irregular Migration.
Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC) Ahmed Hussen, added that last summer, and throughout 2017, both levels of governments were successful in responding to the movement of irregular migrants by working together to address challenges as they arose.
Minister Hussen underlined new federal investments of $173 million over two years to support the intake and processing of asylum claims, security screening, detentions and removals. This includes an investment of $74 million in the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) to expand capacity and process claims faster. He noted that a 40 percent increase in claims finalization was achieved at the IRB last year due to efficiency measures and that the new funding will further speed up processing of claims, which will relieve pressures on provincial services.
Recently, Minister Hussen met with the High Commissioner of Nigeria where the issue of Nigerians transiting through the U.S. to claim asylum in Canada was discussed. IRCC has expanded its social media campaign to include the Nigerian community, as it recognized the background of a large number of asylum claimants is Nigerian.
During his trip to Washington last week, Minister Garneau met with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials and raised the issue of irregular migration. Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Ralph Goodale will be meeting with DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on the margins of the upcoming G7 Security Ministerial meeting to discuss joint border security and public safety issues, including irregular migration.
Minister Hussen concluded by saying that IRCC and Global Affairs Canada (GAC) continue to work together on outreach in the U.S., meeting with organizations and community leaders. As well, GAC’s U.S. mission network continues to proactively communicate how rules-based immigration system works and correct any misinformation.
”We will keep on working with Quebec and Ontario and the other provinces, as I believe that only together we can find innovative and creative solutions to best manage irregular migration,” commented The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.
Moving forward, the members of the Task Force agreed to take concrete actions to ensure a coordinated and effective response to the irregular migration situation. To this end, members announced that they will be working together to assess details of Quebec’s claims for additional financial resources.
“We remain committed to protecting the safety of Canadians and keeping our borders secure. We continue to ensure that Canadian law is applied and that our international obligations are respected,” said The Honourable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.
Officials were directed to explore the development of a triage system at the Canada-U.S. border to enhance the integration and facilitate the rapid employment of asylum claimants. This would include gathering information on asylum claimants’ skill profile and intended destination with the goal of alleviating pressures on major urban centers and reducing labour shortages in the region.
Members also agreed to intensify efforts to work constructively with the United States (U.S.) on these issues.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Minister Garneau encouraged all members to maintain an open dialogue and work together to address shared challenges. Members also acknowledged that those whose claims have been accepted as genuine refugees fleeing violence and persecution will help grow our country as permanent residents.
From January through March 2018, 12,145 asylum claims have been received across Canada. Of these claims, 42% were made by irregular migrants. The majority of irregular crossings have continued to take place in Quebec, with 96% of all RCMP interceptions being carried out in Lacolle.
The innovative IRCC mobile processing unit that was operational at the Lacolle POE from November 7, 2017 to February 9, 2018 processed 720 asylum seekers. The mobile unit is back at Lacolle now and processing claimants due to the recent increase in numbers.
In total, 12,500 work permits were issued to asylum claimants in Quebec, since April 1st. An additional 1,474 work permit applications have been approved for asylum claimants who entered Canada outside of Quebec.
The Task Force will continue to collaborate and share information moving forward.