• 143,830 people entered Canada illegally and applied for refugee status, according to IRCC data
  • This is up from 10,365 a decade ago, representing a 14-fold growth in 10 years
  • The Trudeau government changed visitor visa rules to make it easier for anyone to come to Canada, allowing bad-faith actors to come under false pretenses and take advantage of Canada’s generous landed refugee program. 

Canada once had the world’s strongest and most secure immigration system. We had our pick of the best and hardest working immigrants, and illegal immigration was miniscule and mostly contained. 

Canada has natural advantages that protect us from illegal migration and unchecked border crossings – two large oceans separating us from failed states, communist dictatorships and kleptocracies that produce refugees. Our only border is shared with the United States, which happens to be our ally, top trading partner and the top destination for most global migrants. 

Our American neighbours and our European cousins face totally different challenges that come from shared borders and frontiers with refugee-producing countries, and therefore deal with millions of migrants streaming into their countries annually. 

Canada’s problems with illegal immigration pale in comparison, however, there are alarming changes happening in the federal government that have allowed Canada’s numbers to surge to new unprecedented highs in illegal entry and potentially dubious asylum claims. 

In 2023, we saw the largest number of illegal migrants entering our country in the history of Canada. A shocking 143,830 people illegally entered Canada and made asylum claims, this according to raw data from Canada’s immigration department.

These wannabe refugees either entered illegally – sneaking across unmanned border crossings or entering using a fraudulent or falsified passport – or they entered under false pretenses, pretending to be temporary visitors only to later submit a claim for political asylum.

These migrants are trying to obtain refugee status in Canada, but they are not yet legal refugees. They still need to have their cases scrutinized by an immigration judge – a process that has historically been difficult and resulted in most claims being rejected or abandoned (although, in recent years the rules have loosened significantly to allow more asylum seekers to obtain refugee status).

Even if their claims are eventually rejected by an immigration judge, or if they choose to abandon their claim and either move on to another country (usually the U.S.) or to “go dark” and live on the lam in Canada, there are significant benefits of being an asylum claimant in Canada. 

Asylum seekers are eligible for government benefits, including welfare, social housing, and the gold-plated Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) – a program funded to the tune of $1 billion per year, where the federal government pays the provinces to provide extensive healthcare to these illegal migrants. Under the IFHP, asylum seekers receive care above and beyond what Canadians receive, including the cost of any medications, dentist visits, eye doctor visits and other services that Canadians pay for out of pocket.

It seems quaint in comparison to look back at historic averages. 

According to the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), prior to the Trudeau government forming in late 2015, Canada’s previous highs in asylum seekers were in 2001 (44,000) and 2008 (37,000), with lows coming in 2013 (10,365). IRCC noted that “the number of asylum claimants more than tripled since 2015, increasing from about 16,000 in 2015 to over 50,000 in 2017. 

The numbers slowed down considerably during the COVID-19 pandemic, as the Trudeau government implemented tight restrictions and travel into (and out of) Canada. 

In 2020, Canada only received 23,690 asylum claims and 24,900 in 2021. 

Rather than taking advantage of the natural reduction in illegal immigration caused mostly by restricted global travel during the pandemic, the IRCC under the direction of the Trudeau government, allowed our immigration system to come apart in recent years, leading to a 6x jump in illegal immigration in just two years, from 2021 to 2023, and a staggering 14-fold increase from ten years prior. 

It’s important to address the reasons for this explosion in illegal migration so we can learn from these mistakes and correct the ship – before it’s too late. 

These policies will be explored in the next part of this series on Canada’s broken immigration system.