The Trump administration is calling for a host of immigration changes that include boosting security along the border with Canada, as a U.S. official cited an attack in Edmonton last month as a reason to strengthen deportation processes.
In a letter sent to Congress on Sunday, President Donald Trump outlined a series of demands to change the immigration system.
The refugee system must also be changed to address loopholes that prevented the man accused in an attack in Edmonton last month that left five people wounded from being deported from the U.S. in 2011, a U.S. official said on Sunday.
Abdulahi Hasan Sharif, the alleged Edmonton attacker, was arrested and detained by immigration officials in California in 2011 for being in the U.S. illegally, although he had no known criminal history at the time, VICE News first reported. An immigration judge subsequently ordered Sharif deported to Somalia later that year. He then was released from immigration detention but failed to show up for his removal in 2012. Within a few months, Sharif crossed into Canada legally and was able to obtain refugee status.
A U.S. official told reporters said in a phone call on Sunday that the Trump administration wants to “address” the fact that Sharif was able to dodge the deportation order, the Globe and Mail reported.
In 2015, Sharif was investigated by the RCMP for allegedly espousing “extremist views.” He was never charged due to a lack of evidence nor was he deemed a threat to public safety. Sharf now faces 11 criminal charges including five counts of attempted murder for allegedly running over pedestrians and attacking a police officer.
The U.S. plan would also give immigrations and customs officials broader powers to keep deportees locked up until they are slated to be removed.
Though it’s still possible for someone to claim refugee status in Canada, even if they’re deported from the U.S., the revelations about Sharif’s past have prompted Canadian officials to review his case and the process through which he entered the country.
Canadian immigration officials, though, have repeatedly emphasized that Sharif was not deported from the U.S. for criminal reasons, and that his file raised no red flags for Canadian border agents.
Trump’s letter called for changes to immigration rules in order to “end the practice of catch-and-release”. The U.S. plan would also give immigrations and customs officials broader powers to keep deportees locked up until they are slated to be removed from the country.
The letter also outlined a longer list of strict immigration demands that Trump said “must be included” as part of any legislation to address the status of so-called Dreamers or children who were brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents and have since made a life there.
Recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) include 800,000 or so undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children through irregular means. The program allows them to temporarily stay in the country and receive work permits. Trump previously tried to end the program, brought into effect under executive order by the Obama administration, but has given Congress a deadline to enshrine it into law.
Officials claimed that Canada’s ambitious Syrian resettlement program posed threats to U.S. national security
Earlier this year, Trump praised aspects of Canada’s “merit-based” immigration system where candidates receive points due to their education level work, experience, language skills, and job prospects.
In 2016, the US Congress held hearings on Canada’s refugee system where officials claimed that Canada’s ambitious Syrian resettlement program posed threats to U.S. national security. No one from the Canadian government attended the hearings, which were criticized for a lack of credible witnesses and testimony that relied on a debunked myth that the Canada-US border is a pipeline for terrorists.
The calls for tightening the border come ahead of a meeting between Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Donald Trump on Tuesday, where the leaders are expected to discuss U.S. plans to scrap the North American Free Trade Agreement.