Canada announced Tuesday it will boost spending on border security in an effort to clamp down on asylum-seekers crossing into its country from the U.S.
The Canadian government is committing an additional $902 million over the next five years in an attempt to stem the flow of asylum-seekers from nations like Nigeria and Central American countries who are swarming its border from the U.S.
According to Reuters, 57,000 “irregular migrants” poured into Canada last year, overwhelming the country’s court system and burdening its welfare programs. Finance Minister Bill Morneau said the purpose of the enhanced border enforcement was “to detect and intercept individuals who cross Canadian borders irregularly and who try to exploit Canada’s immigration system.”
The new initiative is being driven, at least in part, by voters frustrated that elected officials haven’t done more to deter migrants from planting roots in the country, Reuters reported.
In a separate Reuters report from last year, the publication said an uptick in illegal border crossings began in January 2017, when several Haitian immigrants fled to Canada from the U.S. over fears of losing their temporary legal status in America. Thousands of Nigerians have fled the U.S. seeking safe haven in Canada for the same reason.
Canadian officials have even visited Nigeria and pockets of immigrant communities in the U.S., seeking to dispel rumors that everyone who crosses into Canada will be allowed to stay. Most asylum-seekers are actually sent back once they’ve been through the court system, authorities said.
Asylum-seekers aren’t the only people Canada is cracking down on. According to The Toronto Star, Ottawa is also launching a plan to collect data on every person leaving the country in order to keep track of those who have overstayed their welcome.
The new “Entry/Exit Initiative” is aimed at catching not only terrorists or other criminals, but so-called “snow birds” who leave the country but illegally continue to collect benefits from Canada’s social programs.
Canada’s “exit” tracking system is similar to reporting schemes used by other countries such as Australia and New Zealand. If successful, the Canadian government believes it could save $206 million over the next decade just by stopping abuses of its employment insurance and old age security programs.