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CAQ calls for tighter borders, hardline approach to asylum seekers

CAQ calls for tighter borders, hardline approach to asylum seekers
From CBC - August 10, 2017

As Quebec takes measures to accommodate a surgeof asylum seekers crossing into the province, a right-leaning opposition party claims the border has become a "virtual sieve" and is calling for the government to reconsider what it calls a"completely irresponsible" responseto the influx.

"Canada is compelled to handle asylum claims, and Quebec is obliged to handle it," said Coalition Avenir QubecLeader Franois Legault in a Facebook post.

While he said that Quebec and Canada have a duty to accept their share of refugees in the face of a crisis, Legault is concerned about what he calls an "out-of-hand influx of illegal migrants" flooding into Quebec from the United States.

"For all potential migrants, this Liberal discourse is the equivalent of an invitation to stampede toward the Quebec border without going through customs," said Legault.

Legault also said that province's "resources are limited, just like our capacity to integrate immigrants into the francophone majority."

Over the last few weeks, authorities have struggled to handle a growing number of people coming into Quebec through unofficial crossings such as Roxham Road, close to the official border crossing at Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle.

In the past two weeks, the number of asylum seekers has jumped from about 50 a day to 200 at that crossing, and by Wednesday, 700 people were waiting to be processed. The province has to find accommodation for them all.

While the Parti Qubcois, the Official Opposition, has also questioned the province'scapacity to deal with the influx, the right-leaning CAQ is the first Quebec political party to call for stricter rules and tightened border control.

The CAQ has taken a strong stanceon immigration, culture and identity in the past,but this hardline approach to asylum seekers comes as the party's popularity continues to mount across Quebec in recent months.

Premier Philippe Couillard accused Legault of fear-mongering by "trying to stir up concerns" among Quebecers over immigration and refugee issues.

"Quebec is a mature society and is giving the necessary resources to face this situation in a proper and dignified matter," said Couillard. He called Legault's stance "a sheer lack of leadership."

Potential backlash from Quebecers

No sanctuary city?

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