We're now starting a second meeting.
I welcome everyone to the 71st meeting of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration.
We welcome all of our witnesses and thank you for coming on relatively short notice to this special meeting.
For the first hour of the meeting, Mr. McKay will be the chair; then we'll turn it over to me. If, however, anything goes on in the meeting that is a procedural issue, if it arises from one of the members of the public safety committee, John McKay will be the chair of that part; and if any procedural issue comes from one of the members of the immigration committee, it will be my responsibility.
We'll go over to John.
I'd like to call upon our witnesses to go in whichever order they choose.
We are going to be a bit hawkish about time, because we have two hours, and this is a very important subject. When we signal, then, that time is up, I would appreciate your respecting that.
I also encourage all hon. members who tend to look away from the chair when their time is expiring to pay attention to the signals of the chair.
With that, I will ask whoever is the lead to introduce himself or herself and their fellow witnesses.
Thank you, Mr. Chair. My name is Patrick Tanguy. I'm the assistant deputy minister responsible for emergency preparedness and programs at the Department of Public Safety and I'll be the first one to speak.
First of all, I want to give members an overview of the role of the Department of Public Safety.
Public Safety is responsible for providing leadership relating to emergency management in Canada and ensuring a coordinated response to events affecting the national interest, including terrorism and human-induced and natural disasters.
In 2004, following a wide range of emergencies, the Government Operations Centre was created by the Government of Canada in order to provide a centralized, stable, 24-7 facility to coordinate and support a whole-of-government response to these events. As such, the Government Operations Centre is the principal means by which the minister of public safety exercises a leadership role in establishing an integrated federal approach to emergency response, as mandated in the Emergency Management Act.
The mandate of the Government Operations Centre is to support response coordination of events affecting national interests, as I was saying previously. It is—and it's important to focus on this—an interdepartmental, response-focused asset of the Government of Canada, working in support of departments and agencies at the national level.
The Government Operations Centre is charged with the following functions: to provide definitive national-level situation awareness to partners and senior decision-makers; to provide 24-7 watch and early warning for government, and in support of partners' mandates; to ensure a whole-of-government response capability; to ensure the efficient use of Government of Canada strategic assets and, when offered, provincial and territorial assets. This is a key asset for the minister and the deputy minister community to get the mechanisms and advice to support their direction.
During operations, the governance of the Government Operations Centre is in accordance with the federal emergency response plan.
What is the federal emergency response plan? It is the Government of Canada's all-hazards response plan, designed to harmonize federal emergency response efforts with those of provinces, territories, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector. The plan outlines the processes and mechanisms to facilitate an integrated Government of Canada response to an emergency.
I will now take a little time to talk about the situation in Lacolle.
In early 2017, there was a notable increase of migrants seeking refuge in Canada through Emerson, Manitoba. That trend did not ease at all during the following summer months and the number of asylum seekers increased significantly, particularly near the border crossing at Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, in Quebec
The increase in the number of asylum seekers created significant strain on the resources available to federal authorities, who play a key role in process processing asylum seeker claims, and on provincial authorities, who provide lodging, medical and social services.
Last August 4, the Government Operations Centre activated an event team to ensure the ongoing whole-of-government coordination of the federal response to manage the influx of asylum seekers arriving in the area of Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle. Subsequently, from August 4th to August 28th, departmental liaison officers and subject matter experts from the Canada Border Services Agency, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, Public Services and Procurement Canada, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and Shared Services Canada arrived at the Government Operations Centre to identify key requirements for interim lodging, a triage centre and a joint processing centre.
On August 7, the province of Quebec requested federal assistance for temporary shelter for the asylum seekers. That same day, the and the promptly accepted the Quebec government's request for federal assistance in dealing with the asylum seeker situation.
It is important to recognize that the Government Operations Centre, the GOC, is working closely with all the partners.
I would like to close with a word on the role that the GOC will play in the strategic response plan.
Based on the lessons learned from the events at Lacolle, and in cooperation with the responsible departments and agencies, we are developing contingency plans so that we are able to respond as well as, or better than, we did before, to another influx of asylum seekers.
I will finish there, Mr. Chair,
Good morning, Messrs. Chairs and honourable committee members. Thank you for the invitation to speak to you this morning concerning the RCMP's roles and efforts with regard to the current situation of irregular migration.
Before addressing the specific situation in Quebec, I would like to explain the RCMP's enforcement role and place it in context as part of a larger response, with federal partners, to the influx of asylum seekers we have been experiencing.
The RCMP is responsible for border security and enforcing the laws between the ports of entry. To do so, we employ a layered approach involving the targeted deployment of resources and technology, intelligence and information analysis, and leveraging our domestic and international partnerships.
The RCMP's primary objectives are to prevent, detect, and disrupt cross-border criminality, as well as to respond to other cross-border activities. We meet these objectives by working closely with federal counterparts, such as the Canada Border Services Agency, as well those from the United States, including U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and U.S. Homeland Security Investigations.
In border enforcement, the RCMP is at the front line, and for the most part represents the first point of contact for individuals intercepted between the points of entry who are making a refugee claim. In all cases, the RCMP must put the safety and security of Canada at the forefront while also ensuring the welfare and well-being of those attempting to enter the country.
As we all know, Canada has requirements for entry either through standard immigration processes or for refugee claims. Failure to report upon entry is an offence under section 11 of the Customs Act, and any individual who commits an offence may be arrested and subject to removal, detention, fines, or imprisonment. Individuals intercepted by the RCMP are arrested, after which a risk assessment is conducted, including an interview and background check to determine whether there has been any involvement in illegal activity, such as drug trafficking or possession of contraband, or any connection to organized crime or terrorism.
It should be emphasized that the RCMP does not simply intercept and then turn individuals over to the CBSA. A significant amount of time is taken to confirm identity and assess activities to ensure that there is no threat to Canada or Canadian interests. If threat verification is negative, the claimant is then referred to the CBSA for appropriate processing.
In the last several months, Canada has been experiencing a spike in asylum seekers, particularly in Quebec and to a lesser extent in Manitoba and British Columbia. From January to August of this year, the RCMP intercepted 13,211 people entering irregularly to make a refugee claim. The majority of intercepts—11,896—have occurred in Quebec. In July and August alone, just over 8,500 individuals were intercepted in the Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle area of the province. To put this into perspective, total RCMP “between ports of entry” intercepts across the country for 2016 were approximately 2,500 people.
As Canada's national police, the RCMP is present across the country, which allows our organization to adjust enforcement efforts and resources relatively quickly. The RCMP has significantly increased the number of resources allocated to border protection. Additional resources are on the ground in Quebec and have been for several months, to provide the required RCMP presence and monitoring, which includes conducting regular patrols along the Quebec-U.S. border.
In particular, resources have been deployed near the area of Roxham Road, as this is the point where most irregular crossings are occurring. Currently, the RCMP maintains a 24-7 presence at this location, with temporary facilities and additional infrastructure that have been set up to facilitate processing of the irregular arrivals, including a satellite detachment in close proximity to CBSA, which allows for promoting efficiencies in overall processes.
As previously stated, our primary goal is to protect the safety of Canadians and the integrity of our border. I am confident in the ability of the RCMP and the partners here today to work together to do so while upholding Canada's long-standing commitment to being a nation that welcomes those in need. Officials are working diligently to ensure that our response is effective as things continue to evolve, and that interdepartmental work that has been undertaken to date is commendable.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today.
It is a pleasure for me to be here today on behalf of the agency and to have this opportunity to contribute to your joint committee study of arrivals between Canada's ports of entry.
My name is Jacques Cloutier, and I am acting Vice-President of the agency's operations branch.
As members of both committees are aware, the CBSA has a dual mandate to facilitate travel and trade at the border while protecting the safety and security of Canadians.
Together with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, the CBSA administers the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, which governs both the admissibility of people into Canada, and the identification, detention and removal of those deemed to be inadmissible under the act.
All persons who seek entry to Canada must demonstrate that they meet the requirements to enter and to stay.
Mr. Chair, now I would like to turn the focus of this special joint committee meeting to the arrival of asylum seekers who travel between designated ports of entry from the United States. In our communications and outreach we continue to emphasize that coming to Canada in this fashion is both a violation of the law and potentially dangerous.
At the same time, in accordance with Canadian values and our humanitarian tradition, individuals who seek asylum in Canada must be treated with compassion and afforded due process under the law.
Rigourous immigration and customs rules must be followed, which the agency continues to apply to protect Canada's border while respecting domestic and international obligations.
Those who enter Canada outside of ports of entry are arrested by the RCMP or local law enforcement, and are brought to CBSA officers at a port of entry for processing.
Asylum seekers undergo a rigourous process to determine whether or not they have a legitimate claim according to Canadian and international law.
Our robust security screening process includes interviews with claimants and the collection of information and biometrics to help us confirm their identity.
CBSA officers further examine records for any immigration, criminal, or national security concerns against Canadian, international, and other partner databases.
No one leaves the port of entry without completing this initial security screening and in cases of concern, the interviews are treated entirely at the port of entry.
All eligible claimants are assessed by the Immigration and Refugee Board. If the IRB determines that they are not in need of Canada's protection, the CBSA may remove them from Canada. Many federal government departments, along with provincial and local partners, are working together to address the current situation at the Canada-U.S. border.
We are making every effort to ensure that adequate resources are available at key locations to address volumes. We are using all of the technology, intelligence, and partnerships at our disposal to monitor and respond to the demand.
With IRCC, the agency has put in place contingency plans to redeploy staff and expedite intake processing. The agency has deployed resources to the regions of highest activity between ports of entry, such as Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle.
To effectively manage the volume of arrivals, asylum claimants who have cleared security and health-related checks are moved inland, where IRCC and CBSA officers continue the process to determine their eligibility to claim asylum.
Given the influx of asylum claimants, we have increased our capacity on several fronts in Montreal. We have more than tripled our daily processing output.
To conclude, Mr. Chair, as key partners in the admissibility continuum, we continue in close collaboration with our partners to give this situation all the attention it deserves.
Good morning. I'd like to thank the committee chairs for inviting us to speak today, and Chairs, noting the time, I will be brief.
My remarks today will focus on Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada's operational efforts in response to the asylum seekers arriving in Quebec this past summer.
For claimants who enter between ports of entry, IRCC's role is to assist the CBSA in the eligibility determination process after individuals crossing the border have been intercepted by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Eligible claims are then referred to the independent, quasi-judicial Immigration and Refugee Board, the IRB, who hear the asylum claim.
Last spring, when we began seeing an increase in the number of intercepts and refugee claimants, IRCC and the CBSA began to reassign staff and expedite processing to alleviate backlogs in determining asylum claimants' eligibility to be referred for a hearing to the Immigration and Refugee Board.
In our department, IRCC, we increased our capacity in the following ways. We opened a new floor and reception room at our Peel Street joint processing centre in downtown Montreal, allowing us to process more than triple the output of claimants every day. IRCC also set up operations at a temporary processing centre at Complexe Guy-Favreau in downtown Montreal, and we have expanded this facility to include a dedicated service counter to help those who have already completed their application forms to come in and reschedule their interviews with IRCC for an earlier date. Thus far, more than 2,400 asylum seekers have used this dedicated service counter, and we launched it on September 5.
Through these measures, we are working to reduce the wait times for eligibility interviews from a few months to a few weeks, after which eligible claims are referred to the IRB.
This timely scheduling of eligibility interviews is crucial because in order to apply for an open work permit, an asylum seeker must first have their initial eligibility interview, have their claim referred to the IRB, and undergo an immigration medical examination.
To also help ease pressures, IRCC has begun to fast-track all work permit applications across Canada from asylum claimants with a commitment to process these within 30 days. In most cases, asylum claimants become eligible for interim federal health program, IFHP, coverage only after an officer has determined that their claim is eligible to be heard before the IRB. IFHP coverage is now available to asylum seekers who enter Canada between ports of entry in Lacolle, and are being processed on or after June 1, for those who have not yet had an eligibility interview.
To date, more than 5,600 persons have been issued this interim federal health program coverage under this special provision.
In closing, Chairs, IRCC, with the CBSA and all other partners in the federal family, continue to address irregular migration in accordance with Canadian and international law and in keeping with our values of an open and welcoming country.
Thank you again for giving me the opportunity to speak with you today.
On behalf of the committees, I'd like to thank each of you for your testimony but also for your respect for the time limitations. I'm rather hoping that members will have similar respect for time limitations.
There is a parallel process. The immigration committee and the public safety committee have exactly the same processes, and so the first seven-minute rounds will go Liberal, Conservative, NDP, Liberal; and then the five-minute rounds, Conservative, Liberal, Conservative, Liberal, NDP.
I'm going to call on Madame Zahid for the first Liberal seven-minute round.
I'm interested in the comment about the United States that everything is good on the safe third country agreement piece, yet we do know, for example, that Mr. Seidu Mohammed, who crossed over the in the dead of winter, and lost digits as a result of it. His claim was rejected in the United States, and yet when he came to Canada, his claim was accepted. This is an outed LGBTQ man from Ghana.
Amnesty International also did a study, if you will, though informal, and the people they interviewed indicated that they don't feel safe in the United States. That's why they are crossing over. There seems to be some discrepancy in terms of the reality, at least from the IRCC's perspective and the government's perspective, versus what people are experiencing on the ground, which I think is very important to note.
There was a large influx in the last year, I would say, and yes it peaked in the summer for Quebec. It peaked in Manitoba in the winter, so there are different periods of time when it peaked.
Do I understand correctly that these cases have been referred to the IRB, and that the vast majority of them have not been heard? What are the wait times for people waiting for their cases to be heard? How does that compare with previous times? In the meantime, in terms of the resources for these individuals, who is providing resources to house them? Is it the province, and has the government provided additional resources to the province to support these asylum seekers? Regarding the NGOs that are on the ground doing this work, are they provided with additional resources as well, and if so, how much?
Thank you, Chair. There are a lot of parts to that. I'll generally answer as quickly as I can, Ms. Kwan.
In terms of the IRB, I understand that next week—next Tuesday I believe—the IRB is appearing with IRCC officials so that we can get more clarity on how the IRB is scheduling. The IRB is coming up with some innovative ways to work through this massive movement that they now have before them.
In terms of the stats on the IRB decisions coming out, particularly on the Haitian population for 2017, I'll let the IRB speak to that. In terms of the housing, indeed, the provinces are the ones that have carriage of helping asylum seekers until they become permanent residents, post-IRB hearing—
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.
My thanks to the witnesses for their presentations. I would like to direct my first question to Ms. Crampton.
The United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment indicates that states shall not expel persons who, after a case by case assessment, are in danger of being put to death or tortured in their countries of origin. In your opinion, has Canada honoured this convention, meaning that we have not sent people in that situation back to their own countries?
Mr. Chair, my next questions go to the officials from the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.
You know that this massive influx, so to speak, really started in July and there was also a spike in August, when we were almost talking of hundreds of people arriving each day. You are aware that government sent members of Parliament, including myself, to go and meet the Haitian community, because false information was circulating to the effect that Canada was open and welcoming Haitians. After that, my colleague Pablo Rodriguez, who is Argentinian by origin and who speaks Spanish, also went to Los Angeles. Can you tell us what impact those two missions had on the border and on immigration?
I'll read off the numbers very fast.
Overall, the point is this. Asylum seeking in Canada has its natural ebbs and flows, even through the year. It is tied to things like visa regimes, and when we don't have visa regimes, it's tied to world movements, natural disasters, wars, civil conflict. So there are a lot of push and pull factors. That said, in 2004, for example, there were just over 25,000 asylum seekers. When we jump to 2007 that number goes up to 28,000. In 2009, you see it going up to 33,000, however in 2010, it drops down to 23,000. In 2011, we see a spike back up to 25,000.
What's interesting though is in 2012, we see 20,500 and a few, but then in 2013, that goes down to 10,400. We then see that climbing to 16,000 in 2015. What's key for us is in 2016, last year, 23,915 asylum seekers came to Canada. That number obviously is very different thus far this year. We are looking at just over 32,000 asylum seekers. In other words, this represents a fairly significant increase over last year's numbers. Where 2018 goes, again, you can see the historical comparisons. It's very hard to predict what happens, and the world stage has a real impact on that.
You cited numbers, and thank you for doing that. A recent study was put forward by the University of Calgary's School of Public Policy that said that, based on estimates they've put together from the Department of Immigration, by the end of the year, 36,000 people will have sought asylum in Canada. Then they compare that to previous years. It's quite interesting because I think it's important to put things in context. None of you have a political role, and this might come as a huge surprise, but politicians sometimes take advantage of things for political gain and ignore the context.
Let's put things in context. According to this study, 38,000 people sought asylum in Canada in 2000; 45,000 sought asylum in 2001; 37,000 sought asylum in 2008. While the numbers are quite high this year at around 36,000, we've dealt with these challenges before. Obviously, the sky has not fallen, if I can put it that way.
Could you speak to this? I think there's a sense in the country right now that this is a unique crisis, but obviously it is not a unique crisis, we've met these challenges before.
Thank you, all six of you, for being here today. Thank you for your service and your important work.
This is a joint session that reflects the increasing complexity of the work that faces parliamentarians. I'd like to thank our two chairs for the leadership it took to make this meeting happen.
I'd like to focus my questions on the human elements of the situation we're facing—the qualitative side—from the perspective of the claimants but also of the women and men who do the law enforcement and immigration analysis work.
I'd like to start with a question on the running of security checks. My colleague Ms. Zahid alluded to it earlier.
Canadians want to be sure that they are safe. When you face applicants who have potentially no background documentation, and face claimants from jurisdictions that may not co-operate with requests for security background checks in their jurisdiction, how can we be sure that the people who are being admitted to Canada have actually gone through a background check that is as close to perfect as we can get it?
I'll answer that question, Chair.
In response to an earlier question, I can say that, as part of the eligibility determination process at IRCC, we have had some very limited conversations with people, asking them some very basic questions about why, what they were thinking, how they ended up here, and so on.
Again, overall, you are talking about over 32,000 asylum claimants. Getting a general sense is difficult. However, what we have learned from the interviews of admissibility, eligibility, and then some of the questions we've asked—plus the outreach, the conversations that have gone on in the United States and elsewhere—is that a variety of factors are pushing people north. I'll be quite honest. Social media is a very significant factor in how people are making what looks to be a very quick decision in their life overall. It's not any one particular reason why people are moving. Some people are very much fearing persecution for themselves from their government. Others are just following a trend on social media.
Mr. MacDonald, one of your comments was that, in terms of the figures and the countries of origin, there are a lot of similarities with situations that have arisen before. However, you also said that having asylum seekers concentrated on that one location was something new, something extraordinary.
In your opinion, and perhaps in the opinion of other witnesses, what explains the fact that there has been an increased presence of asylum seekers in that area?
Thank you, Mr. Chair. I am going to share my time with my colleague Ms. Damoff.
Before I begin, I would like to highlight the professional work you have all done at this time, and I am specifically referring to the episode at Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle. I also acknowledge the respect that you have shown to the people arriving at the border.
Maybe I am a little naïve, but personally, I believe that this humanitarian operation had a much greater impact than simply setting up encampments and providing food. That said, we will see what effect the operation has in Quebec.
Mr. Tanguy, you alluded to the study that went on in the summer in order to better understand this experience, to learn something from it, and to be better prepared in the future. I do not believe that this year was the first periodic and concentrated wave of immigration or asylum requests. I believe that there have been others in the past. What are the factors you are looking at in order to improve your operations, if you have to?
Thank you for the question.
As my colleague from the Canada Border Services Agency mentioned, the Government Operations Centre supports all departments and agencies in order to plan for the future. In concrete terms, one of the most important things is to thoroughly go over the lessons learned from the past. For example, it is important to plan the sites and the facilities, to assess the potential need for a triage centre and a place to conduct checks, and to ensure that you have access to the site specifically to avoid travel.
The role of the Government Operations Centre is to provide tools to our colleagues in agencies and departments in order to accurately assess the measures that can be taken in advance, to provide resources, whether computer-related or anything else, so that the staff, as my colleagues have suggested, is even more prepared than before.
The ability for us to keep in contact with people is really carried through our operation centre, our contact centre. When people are intercepted and then processed at the port of entry, we are taking their contact information, and so on, so we have the initial information in order to reach out to them. In addition, when people submit all of their forms to continue down the process, we are gathering more and more information with them.
That said, we also have been finding that in this particular situation in Lacolle, Quebec—as Monsieur Dumas has outlined—the outreach with the community organizations is key. We also have a very healthy relationship with the Canadian Bar Association and all of the immigration consultants who work with individuals.
So we have many ways to keep in contact with people and encourage them to keep in contact with us.
Mr. MacDonald, I want to go back to the question of diasporas, because if that's what's explaining a concentration at certain border crossings, I have a hard time reconciling that fact with what we see in policy terms in the United States.
Just as a couple of examples, you talked about the Somali diaspora in Minnesota. We know that in November 2016, Mr. Trump was saying that Somali migrants are a disaster for Minnesota, and we see increases at Emerson.
We know that his interim director of the immigration agency in the U.S. was contemplating removing protections for Haitians, and we see an increase then in Lacolle.
If you're acknowledging that we're seeing migrants at specific crossings because of where diasporas are located in the U.S. and that these specific groups of people are being targeted—and we have this on the public record—how does the department then say that American policies are not behind this massive movement of migrants at these specific border crossings?
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you, guests.
I think that for Canadians, particularly for my constituents and British Columbians, the integrity of our border and compassion for those who need it are the two utmost issues that are important to them, and balancing those two is what's integral for our country. I applaud all of you and the answers that you've had. You've been balancing the integrity of our border, as well as being compassionate to those in need.
What shocks me more are some of my colleagues on the opposing side who only ask questions pertaining to costs, illegal migrants, criminality, deportations, how many removals, how much they cost to our country, and how they're a burden. It kind of reminds me of newspaper articles I read from over 103 years ago on the Komagata Maru. There were the same kinds of responses at the time from a lot of the politicians of similar stripes, and I find it appalling that 103 years later, we are still more concerned about criminality and calling them illegals than finding out why they're coming and what's needed.
There was a question asked about putting a port of entry at the place with the largest crossing. The reason people are going to that particular place is because it's not an official port of entry where they would otherwise be turned back. If we put a port of entry there, would that not just start another road or site that would be a place where asylum seekers would come? Could either the RCMP or CBSA answer that?
The answer to that, Chair, goes back to the way we process immigration applications overall within our department. We have different processing networks, which process different kinds of applications in different offices in different places under different management.
It's true that within our domestic network, of which Mr. Dumas is the director general, we looked primarily to his area and chose officers with appropriate skill sets and took efforts to backfill for those officers, all in the context of mitigating as much as possible any impacts to other lines of business.
Some lines of business in Immigration and Citizenship will not be touched or affected by this at all, because of the way we choose our officers to go to Montreal. We are also now looking at sending officers back from Montreal as we get through the work that we need to get through.
Overall the impact has been relatively minor, and we'll only know at the end of the year, because we still have several months of production during which we can adjust and calibrate our output.
My second question has to do with how you act proactively. When we were in Washington, all members of the committee asked the American border services—because at the time, it was an issue in Manitoba—what they do to try to prevent this.
You did touch on this in your remarks, but I know that historically—because this isn't a new problem—you've worked quite closely with the U.S. to identify where there are issues and have even gone to other countries' embassies to try to stem the flow of people. We sent two of my colleagues down into the United States to deal with that.
Could you talk briefly—I only have a short time—about how you work with the United States throughout the years to stem these types of asylum seekers?
I'll start at the very strategic level and will be very quick.
As I mentioned, we have long-standing relationships in the immigration and citizenship world with American colleagues—and all colleagues, quite frankly. We belong to bilateral and multilateral organizations. We deal with foreign governments here in Canada through their diplomatic presence. We have a healthy relationship, and we use it. We also, of course, have our missions abroad, so we actually have a Canadian footprint that we can engage as we go across the world.
When it comes to the operational aspect, we have well-established lanes of communication, information sharing, protocols, and so on in the operational world, in particular with the United States in terms of immigration overall.
Thank you all. It was a very enlightening presentation, and I feel much more confident now that the situation is being handled properly and well, in accordance with our expectations.
In terms of what might happen, Mr. MacDonald, you seem to have a lot of expertise and information regarding flow patterns and what might change in the future, and it seems that your organization monitors that.
I have two questions in that line.
The first is, would your model suggest that next year we should see a continuation or a drop-off in the Haitian migration to Canada?
The second is, should we suspend the safe third country agreement with the United States? How much of an additional impact might we see, as a result of doing so, at our normal border crossings, given the 11 million undocumented migrants in the U.S.? And if doing so were to become knowledge, what type of flow would you anticipate such a change in Canadian policy would cause?
Chair, to answer both those questions, honestly, it's extremely difficult to talk about hypotheticals. I know that's not a great response, but it is the truth. It's impossible to determine people's perceptions versus the realities and all the factors I have talked about, which push and pull people.
In terms of next year's numbers, you're right: certain decisions could occur in the United States that might or might not have an impact on next year's volumes. You do have, as you pointed out, sir, a large number of undocumented workers in the United States. How that plays into the factor is extremely difficult to talk about.
In terms of the hypothetical situation of having or not having a safe third country agreement, it's really very hard to predict, but I will say this again in closing. We have an asylum system established, we have regional and national footprints established in order to handle our number one goal, which is a managed border asylum system, and that is what we're striving for every day when we go to work, to be frank.