It's always a pleasure discussing immigration and refugee issues with the reporters from VICE Canada.
Some excerpts are below:
In Ottawa, some Conservative MPs—such as Michelle Rempel—have balked at the idea of providing refuge to individuals entering Canada illegally. However, critics of that narrative say the cost of crossing is already incredibly high as it is.
"Canada appears to some people to be Disneyland for refugees," Raj Sharma, a Calgary immigration lawyer whose firm has been working overtime due to the number of new claimants, told VICE Tuesday.
"There is a very difficult process here, it's not like people are just being given a pass to do as they wish," Sharma told VICE, adding that many who have been arrested are still awaiting hearing, and that there's no guarantee that they'll win their case.
Out of all three regions, the RCMP says that Quebec has had the greatest influx of refugee claimants attempting to cross the border. The RCMP would not provide VICE with comment as to why they believe this is is, but Sharma says it's likely because of the lack of environmental impediments (such as snow and off-road terrain) that have already caused so much harm to those who have tried to cross in places like Emerson.
According to Sharma and the RCMP, many of the individuals arriving at these unintended border crossings are coming only partially by foot—for many refugees, much of the trip leading up to the border is by cab or truck. These rides can reportedly cost anywhere from $100 a head to $4,000, depending on the severity of the situation and desperation of those trying to cross.
"Migrants and refugees are going where other migrants and refugees have gone," Sharma told VICE. "It's a little bit self-perpetuating, but people will follow in the footsteps of others who have paved the way."
Online, images of RCMP officers playfully hoisting up children who crossed the border last week drew both applause and criticism from social media—with some saying that the images were misrepresenting what was actually happening, which is that the refugees were being, as some authorities have put it, "gently arrested."
"It is unfortunate to say, but think about it this way: these folks are likely going to have hearings very quickly. Weeks, maybe months, but it will happen fast, and now, instead of the US deporting them, that burden may just fall on Canada to deport them," Sharma told VICE.
"Those Ghanaian men who lost their fingers to frostbite? They will have their hearing soon, and it may very well be that they have went from the frying pan to the fire."