Government says there’s no ‘free ticket’ to Canada as number of asylum seekers climbs

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The number of asylum seekers irrregular crossing into Canada outside official border points continues to climb. (CBC)

The number of asylum seekers irregularly crossing the border from the U.S. into Canada continues to climb, but the government says they still represent only a fraction of the total new arrivals to the country.

In March, the RCMP intercepted 887 people entering the country outside an official crossing point, up from 658 in February and 315 in January. That brings the total for the first three months of 2017 to 1,860.

Most of the irregular crossings occurred in Quebec, where 644 people were intercepted by the RCMP. That’s up from 432 in February and 245 in January, and brings the total for the three-month period to 1,321.

Scott Bardsley, a spokesman for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, said the vast majority of immigration to Canada is carefully planned and managed and that spontaneous asylum seekers are much smaller and largely unpredictable.

“These are people who feel they are in danger or at risk, and once they get themselves into Canada by whatever means, they claim asylum in this country for their personal protection,” he said. “They represent only a fraction of all the newcomers we welcome every year, and do not impinge on the regular system.”

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