TORONTO -- The number of irregular border crossers coming into Canada has been declining since its peak in 2017, but the latest data suggest an uptick in these asylum seekers in recent months.

Since the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada began tracking irregular border crossers in February 2017, Canada has received 45,517 refugee claims among them as of June 2019, of which 9,069 have been accepted. Another 27,173 claims are pending, while 7,786 claims have been rejected.

The height of irregular border crossings in Canada occurred from July to September 2017, when Canada received 8,559 such claims.

Since then, there has been a steady decline in these asylum seekers, though from April to June 2019, Canada received 3,939 such claims, the most since September 2018.

Of these more than 45,000 refugee claimants since early 2017, 13,565 are from Nigeria, while another 7,798 are Haitian. Colombia (2,158), Turkey (1,600) and Pakistan (1,367) are also among the five top countries of origin.  

An irregular border crosser is someone who arrives in Canada outside an official Canada Border Services Agency port of entry. These individuals are typically from the U.S. and are usually intercepted by the RCMP, where they are taken to the nearest such port of entry, CBSA office or Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada office for screening.

As of August, the RCMP had intercepted 10,343 asylum seekers in 2019, with 10,076 of those entering through Quebec.

In total, the CBSA and the IRCC processed a total of 39,705 asylum claims from January to August 2019. This includes those who claimed asylum through an official port of entry and irregular border crossers.

On Wednesday, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer announcedthat if elected he would close a “loophole” in the Safe Third Country Agreement, which allows asylum seekers to claim protection in Canada if they enter from the United States between a port of entry. Closing this loophole would require a renegotiation of Canada’s agreement with the U.S.

Chantal Desloges, an immigration lawyer, said there are some challenges in implementing Scheer’s plan, in part because under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, anyone on Canadian soil has the right to life, liberty and the security of the person.

“If a person claims they’re at risk, then you have to adjudicate that claim before you send them anywhere, including the United States,” she told CTV’s Power Play on Wednesday. “Even if the Safe Third Country Agreement were renegotiated, (it) would not deal with this issue. The only way to deal with it is to stop people before they’re actually able to enter Canada.”