OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is defending a changes to asylum laws included in an omnibus budget bill tabled this week, saying his government is working to ensure Canada's refugee system is fair for everyone.
The changes would prevent asylum seekers from making refugee claims in Canada if they have made similar claims in certain other countries, including the United States — a move Border Security Minister Bill Blair says is aimed at preventing "asylum-shopping."
Lawyers and advocates who work with refugees are sounding the alarm about the legal changes, saying they would strip human-rights protections from vulnerable asylum-seekers.
Trudeau says Canada has been seeing larger numbers of refugee claims because of global instability.
He says his priority is to ensure Canadians retain confidence in the country's asylum system, which means every person who comes to Canada must do so according to the law.
More than 41,000 asylum seekers have crossed into Canada "irregularly" through unofficial paths along the Canada-U.S. border since early 2017.