Border Crossing Myths—Can You Bust Them?

Canada’s Most Common Border Crossing Myths

Myth #1: Most irregular border crossings are by Mexican asylum seekers.

Myth Busted: Haitian, Nigerians, and Americans had the most irregular border crossings into Canada in 2017.

The surge of Haitian refugee claimants in Quebec last summer was partly spurred by false accounts of guaranteed residency in Canada circulating in social media. Most Nigerians travelled through the U.S. for a short period of time with the intention of claiming asylum in Canada. Nigeria was already among the top five source countries at the border in 2017. The claims relate mainly to the American-born children of non-U.S. claimants.

Myth #2: Refugee claimants make up more than 5% of the Canadian population.

Myth Busted: Canada received 50,000 claims in 2017, representing 0.13% of its population. Meanwhile, Germany received 170,000 claims in 2017, or 0.2% of its population. Refugee claimants are a very small fraction of Canada’s overall population.

Myth #3: Most people who claimed asylum in Canada last year crossed the border irregularly.

Myth Busted: The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) intercepted about 20,000 refugee claimants who crossed the border irregularly last year, which is 41 per cent of all claims. The majority of refugee claimants enter Canada through regular entry points.

Myth #4: People arriving from the U.S. cannot claim asylum at the Canadian official land border—they are illegal entrants.

Myth Busted: Under the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement, individuals seeking refugee protection must make a claim in the first country they arrive in. However, some refugee claimants seeking asylum at the official Canadian land border qualify for an exception to the agreement, such as having a close family member in Canada.