Despite their much vaunted reputation for welcoming foreigners, almost half of Canadians oppose illegal immigration and support deportation.
Because of Canada’s liberal immigration policies, we may not think that many Canadians oppose illegal immigration. I mentioned yesterday that there has been a recent spike in such immigration from Mexico, and many are being turned away. Now it turns out that a substantial minority of Canadians oppose illegal immigration and want it stopped.
Nearly half of Canadians want to deport people who are illegally crossing into Canada from the United States, and a similar number disapprove of how Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is handling the influx, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll released on Monday.
A significant minority, four out of 10 respondents, said the border crossers could make Canada “less safe,” underlining the potential political risk for Trudeau’s Liberal government.
The increasing flow of hundreds of asylum-seekers of African and Middle Eastern origin from the United States in recent months has become a contentious issue in Canada.
There has been broad bipartisan support for high levels of legal immigration for decades in Canada. But Trudeau has come under pressure over the flow of the illegal migrants. He is questioned about it every time he appears in parliament, from opponents on the left, who want more asylum-seekers to be allowed in, and critics on the right, who say the migrants pose a potential security risk.
Canadians appeared to be just as concerned about illegal immigration as their American neighbors, according to the poll, which was conducted between March 8-9. Some 48 percent of Canadians said they supported “increasing the deportation of people living in Canada illegally.”
I wonder if this minority has always been present in Canada or if it is to some extent a response to the recent influx. Having liberal laws is one thing. Having a sudden new flow of illegal immigration in violation of those laws is a different matter. Now that the United States is perceived as less accepting of the breaking of immigration laws, immigrants from South of the U.S. border may suddenly start making Canada their ultimate destination.
Or perhaps Canada has always been a divided country much like the U.S. is. The government that now supports immigration may have always only had the support of a bare majority. If so, they too might have a Trump-like candidate in the near future, who is able to put together a new coalition.
It will not happen immediately, but in a few years there might be major political change up North.
Trudeau faces no immediate threat, since the next elections are not until 2019. Trudeau’s office declined to comment on the poll, as did the opposition Conservative Party.
Brian Lee Crowley, head of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute public policy think-tank, said the number of illegal migrants could spike as the weather warms, and “if people become convinced there’s a large uncontrolled flow of illegal immigrants, I think that will be a very serious political issue for the government.”
Canadian authorities dismiss the idea they are being lax.
It is easy to condemn Trump for his border enforcement when your country feels no similar pressure. But now that immigrants are turning in greater numbers to Canada, we may see the Canadians oppose illegal immigration in greater numbers as well.