Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Beloeil—Chambly, who gave an eloquent and fact-based speech. It was in sharp contrast to the populist, anti-immigrant, and anti-refugee speeches given by the Conservatives, who used terms such as “corruption” and “corrupt system” to scare people, make them lose faith in our system, and make them wonder if we are letting in criminals. They also said this was about dangerous people.
They denounce the fact that the Liberals have no plan for dealing with the influx of migrants crossing the U.S. border due to President Trump's immigration orders and his decision to end temporary permit programs for certain communities in the United States. Because of all this, the number of migrants crossing the border has tripled in the past year and a half.
It is true that the Liberals have no plan and that this is causing a problem. Quebec's National Assembly has unanimously requested $146 million to allow community groups to continue providing assistance, accommodations, health care, and education for children, among other things, because these organizations are running at 71% capacity and estimate that things will get really tight at 85%.
Many people are concerned about this issue, but the goal is not to scare the public. On the contrary, the goal is to help immigrants. Today, the Conservatives have repeated ad nauseam that these people are crossing the border illegally, implying that they are criminals. However, they have been unable to name a single law broken by the immigrants crossing the border. That is because there is no such offence, either under our laws or under the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, which Canada signed.
The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act states that when a person crosses the border anywhere other than at a port of entry to claim refugee status, it constitutes an irregular entry. That is what is happening at the border right now. In 2018 alone, 6,373 people have crossed the border irregularly.
Such entries are deemed to be irregular because we have a safe third country agreement. However, as my colleague from Vancouver East has said a hundred times, we are asking that this agreement be suspended because the United States is no longer considered a safe country by the many organizations that she mentioned, including Amnesty International, the Quebec immigration lawyers association, and the Canadian Council for Refugees.
There are even 200 Canadian law professors calling for the suspension of the Canada-U.S. safe third country agreement, since people who filed a refugee claim in the United States and who are now subject to an immigration order and those whose temporary permits will no longer be renewed in the United States no longer feel safe in the U.S. They no longer feel welcome. If their claim is denied after a year, they cannot make any more claims in the United States, and since the Canada-U.S. safe third country agreement is in effect, they have to enter Canada by irregular means. If they go through customs, they will be sent back to the United States and could be deported to their own country, where they could be subject to human rights violations, persecution, and torture.
That is not the kind of message we want to send to people who could settle here by obtaining refugee status.
Some Conservatives are saying that they are the children of refugees or immigrants. I too am the daughter of immigrants. What about it? That is not what we are talking about today. We are talking about secure processes. That is what we want. Everyone wants the immigration process to be secure and orderly, but that takes resources. The Conservatives were the first to cut resources. When they were in power, they cut more than 1,000 border services jobs. How can they now ask them to do more with less, when more migrants are coming to our borders? These same people now want us to create an invisible wall along a border that is more than 9,000 kilometres long. How is this realistic, when the Conservatives themselves cut resources to begin with? Now they want RCMP officers to monitor the 9,000-kilometre border every day, and they want border services officers to cover all 9,000 kilometres as well. Come on. That is an unrealistic solution, and the Conservatives know it. They are just posturing. I cannot believe that members of Parliament are saying such outrageous things in the House of Commons.
The government anticipates that 400 people per day will enter the country as the weather improves. More than 20,000 irregular migrants have already arrived, 90% of them via Quebec. That is why the members of the National Assembly asked the federal government for financial assistance. The fact that border management is a federal responsibility is another factor. Why has the federal government been so slow to respond, and why has it failed to keep up with all the provincial, municipal, and community initiatives over the past year and a half?
Members have reiterated that there have been multiple requests for an emergency debate, for studies in committee, and for the suspension of the safe third country agreement. The Liberals simply say that everything is just fine, that there is no problem, and that everything is under control.
In the meantime, the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada says it currently has a backlog of more than 46,000 claims. It usually takes 60 days to process a refugee claim, but it is now taking 18 months. It makes no sense. The Liberals say that an investment of $74 million is included in budget 2018. However, $74 million is not enough to process half the files. The board will only be able to process about 20,000 of the 46,000 backlogged cases. We also know that there are 2,100 new cases every month. How can we ensure that all these files are processed efficiently if we do not have the necessary resources, border staff, and money to welcome these people?
Community groups in places like Hemmingford and Dundee in my region of Salaberry—Suroît have mobilized. I am talking about Bridges Not Borders, the Upper St. Lawrence community development corporation, the Valleyfield diocese, and people like Rémi Pelletier, Grace Bubeck, and Michel Pilon. They have organized three town hall meetings in my riding since January 2017. These meetings were not held to scare the public, like the Conservatives are doing. They were held to provide accurate information, for example on the Canada-U.S. safe third country agreement. People wanted to know why immigrants were crossing at Roxham Road, what the immigrants needed, and what they could do. They asked the RCMP officers what they could do to help the immigrants. Were they allowed to welcome them in their homes? Would they be charged for giving them a bowl of soup to warm up? Could they give them a coat and mittens in the winter if they were not dressed for the cold? Was it normal for children crossing the border to not be suitably dressed, to not have eaten, and to seem so tired from walking through the night? Those were the types of questions that people were asking. They were not asking whether the people had entered illegally and whether they would be arrested.
Indeed, what the Conservatives are saying is that the borders are wide open, that anyone can enter, and that—