Since illegal entries began to spike in recent months, authorities on both sides of the border believed some asylum seekers were brought into Canada by organized criminal enterprises. The RCMP announced
that after a four-month investigation, charges were laid against a 43-year-old Saskatchewan woman. Michelle Omoruyi faces one count human smuggling and one count of conspiracy to commit human smuggling.
According to the RCMP
, Omoruyi was arrested Friday in a vehicle illegally entering Canada from the United States. Nine West Africans were found in the vehicle and all nine have since made refugee claims in Canada. Under Canadian law, asylum seekers in the country cannot be charged with offences pertaining to their illegal entry unless and until their claims to be Convention refugees are dismissed. The West Africans were all released from custody to pursue their refugee claims.
After Omoruyi’s arrest, police searched her Regina home and recovered evidence including a significant amount of cash.
The Canadian Border Services Agency was tipped off to Friday’s alleged illegal entry
by the U.S. Border Patrol. Arrests have also been made in the United States but American authorities have not yet released any details.
Dramatic increase in illegal entries since January
According to figures
released by the federal government yesterday, the 887 border crossers in March surpassed the 658 illegal entries in February. February's figures were more than double the 315 illegal entries recorded in January. It is anticipated these monthly figures will only increase as the weather warms up. The total number of illegal entries into Canada from the U.S. so far this year is 1,860.
The majority of the border crossers (644) entered Canada in Quebec. Manitoba was the second province of choice where 170 people illegal entered Canada. British Columbia saw 71 people illegally enter from the United States while single border crossers were found in Alberta and New Brunswick.
None of these entries were made at official ports of entry. Under a Third Safe Country Agreement signed by the U.S. and Canada, anyone who appears at a port of entry from the United States and is found to be inadmissible can simply be returned to the United States.
reports, the 1,860 figure represents only about one-fifth of those who have made refugee claims in Canada during 2017. But walking across the border attracts more attention than those who enter Canada by other means. In a Reuters/Ipsos poll done last month, almost half of Canadians surveyed want these illegal border crossers deported immediately.
Many of the border crossers have been living illegally in the United States for some time while others have obtained visas to enter the United States for the sole purpose of making their way to Canada.
Most people who have found to have entered Canada illegally from the United States told authorities it was the election of Donald Trump that led their decision to leave the U.S. They do not feel their asylum claims will be treated fairly under the new administration. And Trump has promised to secure American’s borders and to crack down on illegal immigrants.
Omoruyi is scheduled to make her first court appearance on May 15.