On the night of Donald Trump’s election, so many Americans were wondering about moving to Canada that the country’s immigration website crashed. The United States’ northern neighbor has been known for its welcoming policies. In contrast to Trump railing against what he sees as the dangers posed by Muslim immigrants, Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau could be seen greeting refugees from Syria at the airport with a warm smile.
Fearing a crackdown in the US, hundreds of asylum seekers from Middle Eastern and African countries have been illegally crossing the border into Canada. But it turns out that Canadians themselves are not too thrilled about these newcomers. A new poll from Reuters/Ipsos finds that 48% of respondents want to deport the migrants to the US, while only 36% want to accept them as they seek refugee status. More than 40% said that these migrants would make Canada less safe.
The results are not so far off from how Americans say they feel. In the US, 50% of respondents to a similar poll conducted during the same week said they supported increasing deportations of undocumented immigrants.
The Reuters poll comes after a McGill University study found that a vast majority of respondents said they would allow “few” or “some” immigrants from poor countries, while only a little over 10% said they would allow “many.” “Whatever is driving Canada’s exceptionally positive history of immigration and integration over the last half century, it does not appear to be an exceptionally tolerant public,” wrote the author, Michael Donnelly, a political science professor at the University of Toronto.
Canadians were also asked by Reuters whether they support the Trudeau government’s handling of these border crossings, and 46% said they did not, outnumbering those who backed their prime minister. Trudeau has long supported admitting more refugees, particularly focusing on tens of thousands of Syrians.
Canada has been detaining record numbers of Mexicans coming into the country following the lifting of visa requirements for Mexican nationals in December. In the first three months of 2017, border authorities have detained 444 Mexicans, a total that surpasses the annual amounts for each of the previous three years.