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On Monday, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair noted that illegal border crossings, which have previously peeked at over 5,700 per month have now dropped to zero, according to Blacklock’s Reporter. Blair said this was due to the Quarantine Act, imposed to contain the coronavirus.
“We implemented significant new restrictions on people who cross our borders irregularly as non-essential,” Blair said to the Commons. “That has been a very effective measure that has been put in place.”
Conservative MP Joël Godin said, “I would like to know how many illegal migrants have entered Canada since the start of the pandemic.”
“There have been fewer than ten individuals who have crossed the border and been subsequently directed back to the United States,” responded Blair.
All “non-essential” border crossings were restricted in Canada on March 21, even for Canadian citizens. An exception was made for commercial shippers. The Canada Border Service Agency was granted the power to remove immigrants that are caught at the border right away per the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations on April 15.
Jacqueline Callin, a spokesman for the agency said, “These amendments support Government of Canada efforts to limit the spread of the coronavirus.”
“An individual arriving from the US who is prohibited from entering Canada based on an order made under the Quarantine Act can be directed back to the US until the prohibition is lifted.”
“If an individual does not comply with the direction a removal order may be issued,” said Callin. “Based on the prohibitions as outlined in the Quarantine Act order, this may include certain irregular migrants.”
From January 1, 2017 to the order issuance on March 21, 2020, 59,550 illegal immigrants made their way across the Canadian border. Illegal immigration averaged 955 crossings as of last month, before the quarantine order.
On March 20, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau noted that it was necessary for the country to refuse shelter to illegal immigrants looking for refugee status.
“These are exceptional measures to protect citizens,” Trudeau said, “We are comfortable with this process as being in line with Canada’s values on the treatment of refugees and vulnerable people.”
A 2018 report called Costing Irregular Migration Across Canada’s Southern Border showed the Parliamentary Budget Office’s federal expenses in dealing with illegal immigration came to $1.1 billion across three years. The majority of illegal immigrants were Nigerian or Haitian, according to analysts.
Transfers of illegal immigrants to local authorities for things like shelter, food, schooling and health care were made for migrants waiting on their appeals to remain in the country. Appeals usually take around two years. These costs totalled $371.5 million for transfers up until the end of 2019.