When President Trump issued a travel ban on citizens from seven Muslim terrorist hotbeds shortly after taking office, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was incensed.
"To those fleeing persecution, terror and war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength," Trudeau wrote on January 28, 2017.
In June 2017, Trudeau said, "Canadians have been very clear that we see immigration as a net positive, that we know we don't have to compromise security to build stronger, more resilient communities." He pledged to "continue to stand for Canadian values and Canadian success in our immigration system as I always have."
But in 2018, the young prime minister is singing a different tune.
His country's newfound stance began when U.S. Homeland Security announced this week that the United States would no longer grant "Temporary Protected Status" to some 200,000 Salvadorans — they have 18 months to straighten out their status in the U.S. or they face deportation. The reaction from the Canadian government was more muted.
The Canadian government, worried that Salvadorans will flood across the border into Canada to avoid deportation, is now trying to discourage them from crossing into the country — as thousands of Haitians did last year after they were threatened with the loss of similar protection.
"The government announced that it was planning to send Pablo Rodriguez, a Spanish-speaking member of Parliament, to California in the coming days to speak to community groups, lawyers and Spanish-language media," the Miami Herald reported. "His message is simple: If you don't qualify for refugee or asylum status, don't try to cross into Canada."
"Canada has a robust and structured immigration system that must be respected," Argentina-born Rodriguez told La Presse newspaper in a French-language interview. "Before leaving your job, pulling your child from school and selling your house to come to Canada, make sure you understand the rules and the laws. Because if you don't fill these criteria, chances are you'll be returned, not to the U.S. but to your native country."
The government also says there are plans for a "targeted digital campaign" aimed at TPS-affected communities. ...
Under the terms of the Canada-U. S. Safe Third Country Agreement, most migrants are required to request refugee protection in the first safe country they arrive in. For many migrants crossing into Canada from the United States, that means they are legally blocked from entering Canada at a regular border point. But if they cross "irregularly" through the undefended frontier, they are arrested but can immediately make a refugee claim. After undergoing a security check, they can stay in the country until they get a hearing.
Refugee claimants can work and receive health care while waiting for their hearings. According to the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., 14,467 people crossed into Canada outside legal border points in the first nine months of 2017, with half coming from Haiti.
Angela Ventura, spokeswoman for the El Salvador Association of Windsor, Ontario, said she has already been getting calls from Salvadorans living in the United States, anxious to know whether they should come to Canada if they're forced to leave the United States.
"I advise them to do it legally, not illegally," said Ventura, a paralegal by training who has been in Canada for 28 years.
So much for "diversity is our strangth."