While media reports have suggested that refugeesand other immigrants, concerned about President Donald Trump’s emphasis on border security, are headed to safe havens in Canada, a new study shows that they may not be welcome.
According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, almost half of Canadians polled support “increasing the deportation of people living in Canada illegally.” Released on Monday, the poll showed that nearly the same number want to return illegal immigrants that came from the US to go back. Thirty-six percent of those polled want the migrants to be accepted by the government and allowed to apply for refugee status.
Despite the results of the poll, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada advocates for policies that for immigration and refugees.
Trudeau’s pro-immigrant stance has become the focus of political flack. The study found that 46 percent of those polled do not agree with Trudeau’s handling of immigration issues, as compared to the 37 percent who agreed.
Debate among Canadians over immigration is increasing. About one-quarter of Canadians polled believe that controlling immigration is a leading issue for their country, as compared to 19 percent in a December poll. Also, about 40 percent of Canadians polled think that accepting immigrants fleeing from the United States will make Canada less safe.
In 2016, illegal immigrants began seeking to enter Canada in record numbers: 1,222 fled the US to Quebec alone, a fivefold increase from years past. This year, in January and February, after Trump’s inauguration, many risked frostbite and death to cross the snowy border between the US and Canada.
In February, Dr. Paul Caulford of Canada’s Centre for Refugee and Immigrant Healthcare told Public Radio International that President Trump is to blame: “There’s no question what’s driving them. Virtually every person who’s crossed, from pregnant women in the back of trucks to those shepherding their children to safety, have said to us that the United States is no longer a safe country for them to be in.”
When the weather warms up and US immigration controls tighten, border crossings may increase, say experts.