As the U.S. government continues a hardline crackdown on immigration across the country and along the southern border, its northern neighbors have been keeping a watchful eye, wary of how a rise in anti-immigrant rhetoric south of the border might affect the daily discourse in Canada.
In an interview with Newsweek, Ahmed Hussen, Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, said that while Canada is lucky to have a population that “generally supports immigration,” it is not immune to the “anti-immigrant narratives” being espoused in the U.S. and around the world.
“I think we’re very lucky in Canada, by and large, to have a population that generally supports immigration, understands the positive role that immigration has had on our country and understands the positive contributions of immigrants,” Hussen said on Wednesday, following a roundtable discussion organized by the Concordia Forum at Canada House in London.
“However,” he said, “we cannot take that for granted and we are being bombarded with a lot of anti-immigrant narratives right now.”
With Canada’s looming federal election set to take in October, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has sought to resolidify its commitment to welcoming migrants, asylum seekers and refugees into the country. Earlier this year, the Trudeau administration announced plans to attract one million immigrants to Canada over three years.
Hussen, who came to Canada as a refugee himself at the age of 16 after he and his family were forced to flee Mogadishu in Somalia, said he was well-aware of the way anti-immigration rhetoric in a country like the U.S. can shape the discourse around the world.