Faced with an influx of asylum seekers from the United States, Canada is planning to substantially step up deportations of illegal migrants, Canada's public broadcaster reported Wednesday.
A leaked email from a senior Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) official to staff, cited by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the goal is to deport some 10,000 persons a year, as much as a 35 percent increase over recent years.
CBSA enforcement director Brad Wozny wrote that in recent weeks he has "been involved in several discussions both regionally and nationally concerning the government of Canada's decision to substantially increase removal efforts."
"Initial discussions have the agency working towards a new national target of 10,000 removals/year," he adds.
The CBC said 18,000 people, mostly failed refugee claimants, currently face deportation. So far this year 6,083 have been deported, compared to a total of 8,472 in 2017 and 18,987 in 2012.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the government is "trying to improve the immigration system and be more expeditious in handling cases."
Border Security Minister Bill Blair, meanwhile, confirmed that the government has "added additional resources to ensure that (the CBSA) has what they need to do the job."
He noted that only asylum seekers who "have gone through all the legal processes of determining their eligibility for the protection of Canada" and been found "to have not been eligible are subject to removal."
This hardening of the government's position comes as Trudeau's Liberals face increased political attacks ahead of next year's election from opposition Tories, who accuse the government of mismanaging a migrant "crisis."
Donald Trump's election as US president triggered a spike in asylum seekers who have simply walked across the border into Canada, some braving biting cold and dangerous treks through the wilds.
According to the latest government data, more than 30,000 have come from the United States in search of asylum. Most were originally from Nigeria, Haiti, Turkey, Eritrea or Colombia.