Since Donald J. Trump took office as the President of the United States something strange started happening at the border between our two countries. Muslim migrants began crossing the border at unmanned points and claiming refugee status in Canada.
In some cases, they’d take a cab from somewhere in Minnesota or North Dakota to the border. But they don’t cross at the land border crossing on Interstate 29 near Pembina, North Dakota. Instead they trek through farmer’s fields across the 49th Parallel and call 9-1-1 to elicit a response from the RCMP.
Now, you might think this is strange. Why would an illegal migrant call the authorities? Why indeed.
I was at a luncheon last week for members of the Vancouver Police Department and the RCMP. Most are retired, some not, but the conversation is always interesting. A Mountie came up to me and asked if I was aware that members of the Canadian Border Services Agency, who work screening folks at land crossings of our international border, had no authority beyond the actual property of the land crossing and if someone walked just outside the actual crossing the CBSA member had no ability to stop that person. The only thing they could do was call the RCMP, who, I might add have few if any resources deployed to border security.
I was shocked. How could that be? They are federal officers aren’t they?
He sent me a piece written by a retired Mountie with 36 years service much of which was in border communities in Canada. That piece, written by David Greenhaulgh, was shocking.
In it he says, “In 2017 the RCMP institutionally lacks the capacity, the motivation, the leadership and the equipment to defend our borders. It lacks the leadership and the moral courage to tell Canadians the truth about it’s enforcement capabilities or to tell us the direct threat to Canada from Criminal and ideological migrants. For Border enforcement the RCMP is accountable to the Government and not to the citizens it polices. Today there is no evidence the RCMP has any plan outside “business as usual” to defend our Borders.”
This statement in and of itself is stunning. Especially given the 2009 Project Shiprider agreement signed between the governments of Canada and the US committing the RCMP to cooperative border security between the two countries. That agreement specifically designates the RCMP, not CBSA, as the authority to act for Canada in these matters.
The RCMP brass has essentially ignored their responsibilities to our border security. According to Scott Newark, a former Alberta Crown Counsel, Counsel to the Canadian Police Association and Security Policy Advisor to the Governments of Ontario and Canada, “In 2013 the federal government committed $92 million to the RCMP to deploy sensor technology along the Quebec – US border in Eastern Canada. Nothing was done.” Newark said, “A year later, with no action taken, this funding was re-announced by the RCMP as the ‘Border Integrity Technology Enhancement Program (BITEP), yet almost two years later BITEP remains an acronym and not a deployed action.”
Back in Emerson, Manitoba, every day migrants from Somalia, Eritrea and Sudan make their way to the northern border of the US and simply walk across a field 100 metres from a point of entry and announce their arrival to the RCMP.
They are taken in by the RCMP and, according to Greenhaulgh, “briefly detained, admitted, housed, fed, provided medical attention and a lawyer. That is an estimated $50,000 minimum cost for the first year, per migrant, on the Federal tax dollar. After 12 months they become a Provincial liability.”
Had they tried to enter the country 100 metres away at the land Point of Entry, CBSA officers would simply deny them entry and tell them to return home under the Safe Third Country agreement. Essentially, they are safe in the US and thus not refugees by definition.
By any measure, this is nuts.