Almost Half Of Canadians Want Illegal Refugees Deported: Poll

David Krayden | Ottawa Bureau Chief

Support is growing among Canadians to deport illegal refugees who are entering Canada at unofficial border crossings. Almost half of respondents to a new Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll released Monday want the illegals out of the country. A similar number are critical of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s response to the crisis.

Only 36 percent of those polled want to keep the refugees in Canada.

The results are startlingly similar to those found in the United States by the same polling firm in the same week.

40 percent of Canadians say the refugees are making their country “less safe,” signaling further political problems for the Trudeau Liberals.

Many opponents of the government’s record, including Conservative public safety critic Tony Clement, say that Trudeau creates policy on the fly, including in a tweet this year where he essentially advertised an open-door immigration policy and welcomed the refugees of the world to come to Canada.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale has repeatedly indicated that he isn’t sure where the refugees are coming from, even though numerous media reports have said many are coming from Somalia and Saudi Arabia.

Despite decades of cross-party support in Canada for a liberal immigration policy, those attitudes appear to be hardening, according to the results of this poll and another released last week that indicated an increasing suspicion of Muslims and a growing populist fervor in Canada that is seeking a “Trump-style” political candidate.

The new poll indicates that Canadians are not much different than their U.S. neighbors with regards to attitudes toward illegal refugees. The poll, conducted between March 8-9, indicates that 48 percent of Canadians support “increasing the deportation of people living in Canada illegally.”

That result is almost identical to a poll conducted in the United States, where  50 per cent of adults supported “increasing the deportation of illegal immigrants,” according to another Reuters/Ipsos poll that conducted at the same time in the United States.

Some of the illegal refugees whom Reuters interviewed said they had been residing in the U.S. legally, but claimed they fled to Canada because they believed President Donald Trump would deport them.

The political official who may be closest to the refugee crisis is Greg Janzen, the reeve of the isolated area of Manitoba that include the border town of Emerson, where a majority of the asylum seekers have walked across. Janzen says most Canadians view the illegals as “queue jumpers” who take advantage of Canadian tolerance.

“There are so many people in the world who want to come in and go through the right channels,” he said. “That’s what’s pissing most people off. These guys are jumping the border.”

Of those asked, 46 percent said Trudeau was mishandling the crisis, with only 37 percent supporting him. That number compares very unfavorably with the results from a January Ipsos poll that found almost 60 percent of Canadians supporting the prime minister.

Another Ipsos poll found that immigration is now a significant national issue, with 23 percent of Canadians listing it as important, behind healthcare, taxes, unemployment and poverty as top concerns.

The Canadian government’s immigration target for 2017 is 300,000 people, representing one percent of the population. It continues to accept 25,000 Syrian refugees a year.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll canvased the opinions of 1,001 Canadians online. Respondents were at least 18 years of age.

The poll is described as having a “credibility interval,” or its level of accuracy, of plus or minus four percentage points.

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