Coronavirus: Asylum seekers irregularly crossing to Canada will be screened
Canadian Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair said Tuesday that in an attempt to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus, those crossing the border irregularly will still be allowed into Canada, but will be subject to medical screening and housed in quarantine when necessary.
Speaking at a press conference, Blair told reporters that those found crossing the border would be immediately taken into custody, and undergo a 24-hour screening process.
Between October and December of 2019, the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) said there was an intake of 4,097 refugee claims from people attempting to cross into Canada irregularly.
Irregular border crossers are defined by the government as individuals who entered Canada between official ports of entry.
Under normal circumstances, they are referred to the IRB’s Refugee Protection Division after Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) or the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) makes a decision on whether or not they’re eligible for refugee status.
Peter MacKay, a Conservative Party leader contender, took to Twitter to criticize the move.
He retweeted a post by Toronto Sun political columnist Brian Lilley, who accused the federal government of remaining open to “anyone who can get there,” despite recent travel restrictions introduced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“Instead of turning people away, we’re letting them in and paying for their health care and quarantine,” he said. “There are concerns about having enough equipment just for our own citizens.”