The Member of Parliament for Provencher says he will continue to push the Liberal government to close the loophole currently being exploited by asylum seekers. Ted Falk is referring to the wave of migrants that have made their way from the United States to Emerson in recent weeks.
Falk says Canada has a responsibility to alleviate suffering and provide safety to immigrants. However, he says the migrants that are crossing into Canada at Emerson, in the dead of the night are not refugees.
"The United States of America is a safe country and there is no such thing as a refugee from the U.S.," says Falk. "They are not being persecuted there."
Falk says there is a safe, legal process in place at every Canadian airport and land border crossing for people to claim refugee status. But he says these migrants are being coached to purposefully avoid border crossings and are taking advantage of a loophole in the existing law.
Falk says the loophole being exploited is that these individuals are coming up to the border, walking around the port of entry, and instead entering through farmers' fields or through bushes. When they get on Canadian soil, they bang on peoples' doors asking for help, or in some cases will call 911 requesting to be picked up.
"We need to be generous but we also need to ensure the integrity of our border," says Falk. "We must always consider our national security and do our due diligence to make sure we know who is entering our country, where they are entering and why."
Falk says we also need to be sure the system is fair to those seeking to make Canada their new home. He notes for those taking advantage of the loophole, they are circumventing the process. They are processed as refugees and jumping the queue, getting ahead of those who are doing it the legal way.
According to Falk, the Liberal government says based on the Canada-U.S. Third Safe Country Agreement, once someone steps foot on Canadian soil they become our responsibility. The Liberals say we are then required to process them.
"I will continue to push the Liberal government to close the loophole that is currently being exploited and I will continue to voice the concerns of my constituents living along the border near Emerson who are expressing safety concerns within their communities," notes Falk.
He says in some instances, these migrants have come up to residences in the middle of the night, banging on doors and windows, asking for help.
"That creates a lot of anxiety for some of the residents and they are somewhat fearful," notes Falk. "That has been expressed to me that that's been happening and that the safety of our residents is paramount here."
Falk says his understanding is that the Americans are very aware of what is happening at the border. He says they notify Canadian law enforcement officials about any crossings at or along the border. Then, RCMP and Canada Border Services Agency have a heads-up that there has been a breach of our border and that they can expect a call from someone asking to be picked up.
"Just to be walking in communities or areas close to the border, there's nothing wrong with that, there's nothing criminal about that," explains Falk. "But it's when you cross the border into another country and you haven't done it at a port of entry, that becomes an illegal entry."
Falk notes many of those crossing into Canada have made a refugee claim in the United States but been denied. He says they have been asked to leave the United States and are instead coming to Canada to try an alternate method.