Illegal immigrants in Canada

Does Canada have a problem with illegal immigrantion? Is it a “major issue” like in the US? What nationalities are most associated with illegal immigration (eg Mexicans in the US)? What are really the most common nationalities?

Interestingly enough, Mexicans don’t need a visa to visit Canada. At least, not back when I was actively researching the issue. It seems like it’d be a haven for illegals.

When I lived there for a year, it seems like most of the Latina chambermaids were Colombians with refugee status. I don’t know why it’s so easy to be a refugee in Canada, because we met several others that weren’t chambermaids, too.

It depends on how bad something has to get for you to consider it a “problem,” but Canada does have illegal immigrants, and the government spends a not insignificant amount of money working on the problem. Canada is a popular place to immigrate to, so as you would expect, some people want to jump the line.

However, there’s no one nationality that tends to be the focus of the issue. Canada does not share a border with a Third World country so people come in by plane, by boat, and through the USA from everywhere… India, China, eastern Europe, Africa, South America, the Caribbean, southeast Asia, you name it. They’re often deporting illegal Portuguese immigrants who come in on visitor’s visas and then start working in construction and contracting. Just in greater Toronto you can find pretty much every nationality in the world in some form of immigration status. It’s a very mixed bag.

A quick question for those who know…

Are there any unguarded border crossings?

There’s no continent-wide fence, so the whole border is an unguarded crossing. If you’re prepared to get out and walk, you can cross pretty much anywhere.

A related point would be that there are a few places where the border is under the immediate jurisdiction not of the U.S. and Canada but rather of an Indian tribe. I’m thinking mainly of the Mohawks in and along the St. Lawrence River. At least up until recently, goods and perhaps people were able to pass through more easily there than elsewhere. I think the waters are patrolled more vigorously now, though.

Well, I guess I meant…Are there any unguarded border crossings on any public road? I heard of some places where you are expected to simply sign in/out as you come and go

I don’t think there’s any developed country that doen’t have illegal immigration – even countries with no land boundaries, such as Australia and New Zealand, where you can only travel to them by air or sea.

I’ve heard that the biggest group of illegal immigrants in Australia is from the UK, overstaying their visas. In addition, it would not surprise me if there is significant illegal immigration from the US to Australia, again overstaying visitor’s visas, since it is relatively hard to migrate to Australia (unless you come from New Zealand).

I don’t know about roads, but when I was a kid, we used to go sailing on Lake of the Woods, which is divided between Manitoba, Ontario, and Minnesota. At a number of locales in Minnesota, you were simply expected to head to the local general store or post office or whatever and sign in as having crossed the border. Even as a kid, I found it kind of porous, but I don’t suppose a lot of nefarious evildoers have sailboats in Kenora.

If you consider water-routes as a type of road, it’s perfectly routine in these parts – SE Michigan area. It’s not uncommon to jump on a boat, head across the river or lake, dock at one of the restaurants that have docks for docking, and eat there. No muss, no fuss. You’re supposed to have a document, though.

My wife is a green card holder (one of them foreigners), and I always wonder what type of trouble it’ll be if we ever get off a boat not having left US waters only to be questioned by immigration. Hell, I don’t carry proof of my legal status, either.

I saw one on the news recently that had a self-service border stop with a phone that almost everyone just drove by. I also read about a town in Vermont, I believe it was in St. Albans, whose library sits almost exactly on the border. They had one entrance in the front for Americans and one in the back for Canadians. You were supposed to leave the door you came in but the Department of Homeland Security told them to lock the back door. Besides that, there are dirt roads and snowmobile trails that you can take across the border all over the place. Much of the border is very rural.

You may be thinking of the Haskell Free Library and Opera House, in Stanstead, Quebec and Derby Line, Vermont. I’ve biked there last week, it’s a very nice building but unfortunately it was closed when I passed. It is in fact exactly on the border. I think it has only one entrance, situated in Vermont, but pedestrians from Canada are allowed to enter the building without going through customs.

It does seem possible to illegally cross the border in those parts. Actually, it’s quite possible that I did technically enter the US illegally: I took a few pictures on both sides of the border without reporting to customs. I don’t think I could have gotten into too much trouble, though. But I could imagine someone bypassing the border checkpoints by using those city streets.

Stanstead also has a street, the appropriately named Canusa Street, where the pavement is entirely in Canada but where the houses on the south side are in the US. I’m not sure that’s the best place to live in; it seems complicated from a bureaucratic standpoint. I saw a few houses for sale when I rode there.


“Imagine there’s no countries, it isn’t hard to do…”