Canadian Program Could Mean More US Asylum Seekers

The debate about U.S. immigration policies often focuses on the country’s border with Mexico, but more attention might soon be paid to the country’s northern border.

A “balanced refugee reform” program set to be launched by Canada’s Conservative-led government might result in a flood of asylum seekers crossing the border from Canada to the United States, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Under the $540 million refugee reform program, Canadian immigration authorities will begin an expedited process of ruling on more than 42,000 asylum cases, the Times reports. The reviews are scheduled to begin in June, with the goal of rapidly hearing and ruling on the pending cases.

The source spoke to experts who predicted that refugees denied asylum in Canada will seek asylum in the United States; however, there is disagreement about how asylum seekers will be treated at the border. Canadian officials told the newspaper that under a 2004 agreement, most asylum seekers would be returned to Canada and deported. Mike Milne, a U.S. immigration official, said this would not occur in most cases.

“We would take them into detention and they would have the same right as anyone seeking asylum to a hearing,” Milne told the source.

Some are troubled about the potential flood of asylum seekers crossing the border, especially in light of recent events in Los Angeles. The L.A. Times published its report on Canada’s changing asylum review process after a recent string of arsons in Los Angeles was linked to a German man who relocated to the city after failing to win asylum in Canada.

On the U.S. East Coast, lawmakers have recently sought to make it easier to travel between the United States and Canada. U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, a Democrat from New York, called for an expansion of the NEXUS program, to ease travel between the two countries via Empire State border crossings. Under the NEXUS program, preapproved travelers do not have to present a U.S. passport to cross the border between the United States and Canada.