Nearly Half Of Canadians Oppose The Influx Of Migrants From U.S.

There may be as much anti-immigration sentiment on the other side of the border as there is in the U.S.

Border Patrol Works Along Vermont - Canada Border — Getty Images
Mar 20, 2017 at 1:00 PM ET

More refugees are crossing the border from the U.S. into Canada to escape President Donald Trump’s hostile immigration policies, but new data suggests that Canadians may be equally unwelcoming.

Forty-eight percent of Canadians think border crossers should be sent back to the U.S., according to the results of a survey released on Monday by Reuters and Ipsos, a leading market research firm. Of the 1001 people surveyed, 36 percent said Canada should let them stay and “seek refugee status.” 

Since Trump’s election, refugees, primarily from Africa and the Middle East, have been jumping the border into Canada from the U.S. in increasing numbers. Last month, the number of refugees coming from the U.S. who claimed asylum in Canada nearly tripled compared with February 2016, according to data obtained by the Washington Post from the Canada Border Services agency. The increase has become a contentious subject in Canada. 

In response to Trump’s travel ban, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced in late January that “those fleeing persecution, terror & war” are welcome in Canada. In February, Trudeau said again that the country will keep accepting illegal border crossers from the U.S. “We will continue to strike that balance between a rigorous system and accepting people who need help,” he told parliament last month.

Yet not all Canadians are supportive of Trudeau’s immigration stance. Thirty-seven percent of those surveyed said they agree with Trudeau’s handling of migrants, but 46 percent said they disagree, and 17 percent said they don’t know. Additionally, 41 percent said that these migrants crossing from the U.S. would make Canada “less safe.” On the other hand, 46 percent said that the migrants will make no difference for Canada and four percent said they would make Canada safer.

The winter months has meant that many of the refugees make this dangerous journey under freezing temperatures, risking their lives and often arriving frostbitten. Brian Lee Crowley, head of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute public policy think tank, told Reuters that once the weather improves, it is possible the number of border crossers will increase even more.