Kitchener-Waterloo

Immediate action needed to stop 'irregular migration,' MP Harold Albrecht says

Kitchener-Conestoga MP Harold Albrecht says he is 'all for immigration' but he wants more to be done to stop irregular migration into Canada. He made the comments after a report from the parliamentary budget officer found irregular migration cost Canada $340 million between 2017 and 2018.

Liberal inaction will increase backlog and delay legitimate applications, Conservative MP says

A new federal report says the average cost for each "irregular migrant" who entered Canada in the last year was $14,321. (Charles Krupa/The Associated Press)

Kitchener-Conestoga MP Harold Albrecht says more needs to be done to "halt irregular migration" into Canada.

"Waterloo region is home to a large immigrant population – it is part of what makes our community the best in Canada," Albrecht said in a release Thursday.

"My fear is that as a result of Liberal inaction, this growing backlog will delay legitimate private sponsorship, and refugee applications."

Albrecht, a Conservative, made the comments after a report was released Thursday by Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux which looked at the cost of irregular migration across the border between the United States and Canada.

Irregular migrants are defined as migrants who cross the border between official ports of entry.

The report said the average cost for each "irregular migrant" who entered Canada in the last year was $14,321 for a total cost to Canada of $340 million, and it's expected to grow to $16,666 per person in 2019-2020, or $396 million, due to case backlog. 

Giroux said the $173 million the federal government set aside in the budget to cover additional costs related to asylum seekers over the next two years won't be enough.

"Our estimates suggest that they have not budgeted enough, which will result in increased backlog at the Immigration and Refugee Board," he said.

Harold Albrecht is the MP for Kitchener-Conestoga. He says he has personally housed refugees and believes it's not right for irregular border crossers to be given priority over asylum seekers and immigrants who follow the proper channels. (Harold Albecht/Facebook)

'Not facing persecution in upstate New York'

While many seeking asylum may be fleeing Albrecht said people who are coming from the U.S. to seek asylum are not under duress when they cross the border illegally.

"They are, however, in a safe, third country and certainly they're not facing persecution in upstate New York, so I have difficulty accepting that argument," he said in an interview.

He said immigrants he has spoken to in Waterloo region, and particularly those who have been refugees, agree with him. He has received emails, phone calls and he's talked to people at events.

"Many people are raising this with me. Absolutely. They're concerned that our immigration system is not following clearly defined rules," he said.

"I'm all for immigration, I'm all for resettling refugees, especially privately sponsored," he added.

"I personally have housed refugees in my home, helped them find housing, helped them find OHIP coverage. All of these things are important to me personally, and to my community."

But, he said, it's not appropriate for "irregular, or I'm going to say illegal border crossers to be given the priority that they're currently being given, and then expecting the average Canadian to foot the bill for this when they're not even going through the regular channels."

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