Madam Speaker, it is with a renewed sense of urgency that I speak today about the irregular border crossings and asylum claims. This week, the U.S. Supreme Court gave approval for the Trump administration to fully enforce its third version of its discriminatory travel ban. There was also a November announcement that roughly 59,000 Haitians in the U.S. could face removal within 18 months.
As we have seen throughout this year, Trump's xenophobic rhetoric and actions have a direct impact on our system, yet the current government has refused to stand up against this increasing normalization of hate. Instead, it has reacted to these irregular crossings in an ad hoc fashion, refusing to provide one additional dollar to the departments working hard to maintain the integrity of our system. As a result, the IRB is facing a backlog of 40,000 cases, and growing. IRCC has shifted employees from processing citizenship to asylum claims. The CBSA and the RCMP have had their budgets in the affected border communities stretched. Resettlement organizations are desperate for funds.
I was shocked to read that the Prime Minister has now borrowed the anti-refugee rhetoric prevalent during the height of the Syrian refugee crisis. On November 23, he stated:
Would-be Canadians need more than just a desire for a better economic future if they expect to be granted refugee status in this country.
The accusation that refugee claimants are economic immigrants attempting to game the system is not new and is often employed by anti-refugee groups and politicians. To see our Prime Minister shift from #welcometocanada to this is beyond disappointing.
I would like to draw the attention of the parliamentary secretary and the Prime Minister to another example of an irregular crosser denied protection by the U.S. and found to be a genuine refugee in Canada's system. She has asked that I not use her or her daughter's real names, but instead, Amina and Reem.
Amina and her then two-year-old daughter, Reem, left Syria in November 2014. They arrived in the U.S. hoping to make an asylum claim and be reunited with Amina's husband when he would come over. U.S. border officials thought she had too much luggage, cancelled her visas, and told her and her daughter to go back to Syria. She claimed asylum. Amina and two-year-old Reem then spent four months in the U.S. immigration detention system. She had to pay $2,500 for an inexperienced lawyer to represent her, and her claim was rejected. Following U.S. court delays, Amina and Reem decided to make an irregular crossing into Canada at Roxham Road, in November 2016.
Since being in Canada, Amina has taught Arabic as a summer school teacher and has achieved ESL level eight. The IRB ruled in favour of her and her daughter's refugee claim, and my office recently had the opportunity to inform her that her application for permanent residence in Canada has been accepted.
Will the government provide the resources needed to address the impact of these crossings? Will the government suspend the safe third country agreement? Does the parliamentary secretary believe, like the Prime Minister, that Amina and Reem are economic immigrants attempting to game the system?