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Justin Trudeau Appoints Border Minister to Handle Wave of Asylum Seekers

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gestures during a roundtable discussion with members of the Canadian Technology Accelerator in Cambridge, Mass., Thursday, May 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
AP Photo/Charles Krupa

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday appointed a Member of Parliament as Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction as the country struggles to handle increased numbers of border-crossing asylum seekers.

Lawmaker Bill Blair of Scarborough Southwest, a former Toronto police chief, will assume the role of “minister responsible for irregular migration.” He is tasked with helping to secure Canada’s porous border, illegally crossed by 30,000 people seeking refugee status since January 2017.

An investigation by Reuters found a large number of migrants illegally crossed into Canada from the United States due to fears stemming from President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.

“[The] federal Liberal government has come under fire from political opponents for not taking more aggressive action on the issue. This week the opposition Conservatives and NDP demanded an emergency study of the government’s response,” Reuters reports. Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s government has criticized Trudeau’s lack of leadership on Canada’s irregular immigration, accusing the embattled leader of encouraging “illegal border crossers to come into our country.”

Ford’s spokesman Simon Jefferies said in a statement that Trudeau’s failed border security policies “resulted in a housing crisis, and threats to the services that Ontario families depend on. This mess was 100 per cent the result of the federal government, and the federal government should foot 100 per cent of the bills,” the statement continued.

The move to appoint Blair follows Trudeau’s criticism of President Trump’s “zero-tolerance,” policy, causing child migrants to be separated from illegal border-crossing adults. Trudeau told the press he believes the separation of immigrant children from their families by U.S. border agents is “wrong.”

“I can’t imagine what the families living through this are enduring. Obviously, this is not the way we do things in Canada,” Trudeau said. Shortly after Trudeau’s remarks, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) was seemingly caught changing its headline on a report exploring Canada’s detention of migrants.

The psychological effects on minors detained by Canadian authorities have caused concern among experts. Some minors were found left “idle, sleeping or lying on the couches for long periods during the day,” and some experienced “psychiatric and academic difficulties long after detention,” according to a McGill University study.

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