Thank you, Mr. Chair.
It is a pleasure for me to be here today on behalf of the agency and to have this opportunity to contribute to your joint committee study of arrivals between Canada's ports of entry.
My name is Jacques Cloutier, and I am acting Vice-President of the agency's operations branch.
As members of both committees are aware, the CBSA has a dual mandate to facilitate travel and trade at the border while protecting the safety and security of Canadians.
Together with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, the CBSA administers the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, which governs both the admissibility of people into Canada, and the identification, detention and removal of those deemed to be inadmissible under the act.
All persons who seek entry to Canada must demonstrate that they meet the requirements to enter and to stay.
Mr. Chair, now I would like to turn the focus of this special joint committee meeting to the arrival of asylum seekers who travel between designated ports of entry from the United States. In our communications and outreach we continue to emphasize that coming to Canada in this fashion is both a violation of the law and potentially dangerous.
At the same time, in accordance with Canadian values and our humanitarian tradition, individuals who seek asylum in Canada must be treated with compassion and afforded due process under the law.
Rigourous immigration and customs rules must be followed, which the agency continues to apply to protect Canada's border while respecting domestic and international obligations.
Those who enter Canada outside of ports of entry are arrested by the RCMP or local law enforcement, and are brought to CBSA officers at a port of entry for processing.
Asylum seekers undergo a rigourous process to determine whether or not they have a legitimate claim according to Canadian and international law.
Our robust security screening process includes interviews with claimants and the collection of information and biometrics to help us confirm their identity.
CBSA officers further examine records for any immigration, criminal, or national security concerns against Canadian, international, and other partner databases.
No one leaves the port of entry without completing this initial security screening and in cases of concern, the interviews are treated entirely at the port of entry.
All eligible claimants are assessed by the Immigration and Refugee Board. If the IRB determines that they are not in need of Canada's protection, the CBSA may remove them from Canada. Many federal government departments, along with provincial and local partners, are working together to address the current situation at the Canada-U.S. border.
We are making every effort to ensure that adequate resources are available at key locations to address volumes. We are using all of the technology, intelligence, and partnerships at our disposal to monitor and respond to the demand.
With IRCC, the agency has put in place contingency plans to redeploy staff and expedite intake processing. The agency has deployed resources to the regions of highest activity between ports of entry, such as Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle.
To effectively manage the volume of arrivals, asylum claimants who have cleared security and health-related checks are moved inland, where IRCC and CBSA officers continue the process to determine their eligibility to claim asylum.
Given the influx of asylum claimants, we have increased our capacity on several fronts in Montreal. We have more than tripled our daily processing output.
To conclude, Mr. Chair, as key partners in the admissibility continuum, we continue in close collaboration with our partners to give this situation all the attention it deserves.