Canadian Conservative leader Andrew Scheer said Wednesday he would crack down on illegal border crossings from the United States if he unseats Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Oct 21 elections.
"A new Conservative government will enforce the laws at our border, prioritize newcomers from the world's most dangerous countries and restore Canadians' faith in an immigration system that has served this country so well for so long," Scheer said at a popular unmarked crossing near Lacolle, Quebec.
More than 45,000 asylum seekers have crossed dense forests and farmers' fields on foot to reach Canada since Donald Trump was elected president of the United States in late 2016.
The surge has upset many who view it as skirting official immigration lines. On average, Canada welcomes 300,000 immigrants and refugees each year.
But Trudeau said there are no "shortcuts" in Canada's immigration system and everyone is treated the same.
"Everyone arriving in Canada goes through the same immigration system, a full, rigorous immigration system that is being applied," he said.
Scheer said he would hire more border guards and renegotiate with the U.S. to close a "loophole" in a so-called Safe Third Country Agreement that requires asylum seekers to file claims in the first of the two countries where they land, but exempts those arriving outside of road, rail or airport checkpoints.
New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh said he would scrap the agreement to allow would-be refugees from the U.S. to make claims at regular border crossings.© 2019 AFP