The increasing flow of hundreds of asylum-seekers illegally crossing rural Canadian borders from the United States in recent months has become a contentious issue in Canada.
Now a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll released on Monday suggests nearly half of Canadians want to deport people who are illegally crossing into Canada from the United States.
A significant minority, four out of 10 respondents, said the border crossers could make Canada “less safe.”
There has been broad bipartisan support for high levels of legal immigration for decades in Canada. But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has come under pressure over the flow of the illegal migrants.
Trudeau has been increasingly questioned about illegal immigration every time he appears in parliament, from opponents on the left, who want more asylum-seekers to be allowed in, and critics on the right, who say the migrants pose a potential security risk.
According to the poll, Canadians appear to be just as concerned about illegal immigration as their American neighbors, with 48% of Canadians saying they supported “increasing the deportation of people living in Canada illegally.”
When asked specifically about the recent border crossings from the United States, the same number, 48%, said Canada should “send these migrants back to the U.S.” Another 36% said Canada should “accept these migrants” and let them seek refugee status.
In the United States, where President Donald Trump was elected partly on his promise to boost deportations, 50 percent of adults supported “increasing the deportation of illegal immigrants,” according to a separate Reuters/Ipsos poll that was conducted during the same week in the United States.
Illegal migrants interviewed by Reuters in Canada said they had been living legally in the United States and had applied for asylum there. But they had fled to Canada for fear of being caught up in Trump’s immigration crackdown.