May 27th, 2018

Keep refugee numbers in perspective

By Medicine Hat News Opinon on March 8, 2017.

The trickle of refugees coming across the border into Canada from the United States since the Trump administration took power has been overblown, over-exaggerated and over-sensationalized. The number of illegals which have come across the border from the United States has been about 500 to date (nation-wide), mostly families with children.

Compare this to about 40,000 illegal immigrants streaming across the U.S. southern border on a yearly basis, or the million plus streaming into Europe annually, and one could be forgiven for thinking the level of hysteria surrounding these numbers in Canada is somewhat of a joke to our international neighbours.

For anyone to call for 300 new border guard positions to be created and deployed, as the Customs and Border Immigration Union did this past weekend, or to call for some kind of Draconian enforcement measures be imposed on these sanctuary seekers, as some federal Conservatives did this past weekend, is unwarranted and misguided; especially when the laws we have in place already work well enough and the slight uptick in asylum seekers has been easily handled by the RCMP so far. But as the old saying goes: Politics never misses an opportunity, does it?

Outside of these practical considerations, Canada does have a historical precedent for taking in persons from the United States when things get bad south of the border from time to time. During the War of Independence American British loyalists streamed across the border in the tens of thousands to reach Canada and British soil because they feared what vengeance the newly independent country might enact upon them.

In the years leading up to the American Civil War in 1861, an estimated 100,000 escaped slaves road the underground railroad to freedom in Canada. And during the Vietnam War, 20,000-30,000 draft eligible men found haven in this country.

This current refugee trickle in no way compares to any of these historical migrations—so let’s tone down the sensationalism and the hysteria, and keep it all in perspective.

(Tim Kalinowski is a News reporter. To comment on this and other editorials, go to

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