Canada cracks down on asylum-seekers

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption A small number of new rules and regulations govern who can claim asylum in Canada

Canada has announced new regulations to curb the flow of asylum-seekers crossing into the country between official border crossings.

People who try to cross illegally without a passport, a travel document, or proof of identity and residency will be refused entry, the Home Affairs Ministry said.

The policy takes effect on Tuesday.

Monday saw the busiest day on record for asylum claims in the border city of Emerson, Manitoba.

There were 1,971 asylum seekers who made claims in November. That is more than triple the 38 claims made during the same month last year.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Asylum seekers across Canada have been fleeing to the United States since Donald Trump was elected

Lack of space at official entry points in Emerson and at Lacolle, Saskatchewan, has prompted asylum seekers to cross illegally.

Unofficial border crossings

Opposition Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer said the crackdown was “a punitive policy” that was unjustified given the amount of time it takes to process an asylum claim.

“Forcing people to live illegally and outside the law for months or years is cruel and heartless and Canadians should be disgusted by this government’s brand of politics,” he said.

In August, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada “will always welcome those fleeing persecution, war and terror”.

He argued that Canada was “a multicultural society, a society that celebrates diversity” and that Canada does not “hold these views” of asylum seekers.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Refugees who cross the border illegally may spend weeks or months waiting to file an asylum claim

Visa requirements

Visa requirements are being changed for almost 8,000 people from Haiti.

The regulations mean people from the Caribbean island will not need an international visa before visiting Canada’s official borders. They will be required to present an identity document or evidence of residence for all stays in Canada of five days or more.

Immigration officials have said they have opened a temporary detention centre in Burnaby, British Columbia, to accommodate those immigrants.

Canada has tried to remain neutral in the fight over Donald Trump’s policy of separating families and asylum-seekers.

To date, there have been no reports of serious problems for asylum-seekers.

Canada has taken in approximately 25,000 Syrian refugees since September 2015.

Numerous polling shows Mr Trudeau’s popularity high in the country after his last election victory in 2015, but some Conservatives still accuse him of not doing enough to defend the rights of Canada’s indigenous communities.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Immigration officials have said they have opened a temporary detention centre in Burnaby, British Columbia

The immigration issue has been high in the US since Donald Trump became president in January, and his campaign promises to halt immigration from “shithole” countries, to deport people illegally living in the US, and to end protections for hundreds of thousands of migrants from countries including El Salvador, Haiti and Syria.

Hundreds of thousands of people have left their home countries to seek asylum or become migrants to Canada, while others have simply used the United States as a more direct route to Canada.

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