I feel for Tony Clement. The Tory MP has been demanding the government “enforce the law” on the mounting numbers of asylum seekers who have been crossing the border from the United States, illegally, in recent weeks. But he found himself sputtering for air Tuesday when a CBC radio interviewer asked him what, specifically, he wanted the government to do, eventually hanging up in a snit.

It’s a good question, though: In what way are the police officers who have been arresting the would-be refugees as soon as they step on Canadian soil failing to enforce the law? The calls from Clement and other critics for a “crackdown” amount to a demand that illegal immigration should be made illegal, enforced by the arrest of all those who are currently being arrested.

But as I say I feel for Clement. Like him, I have no easy answers to this dilemma. Unlike him, however, I’m willing to admit it. The migration of peoples is one of the great motive forces of human history; when large numbers of people are determined to pick up and move somewhere, there isn’t a force in the world that can stop them.

That does not relieve us of the need to address what seems likely to grow into a considerable problem, if not a crisis. We Canadians have been congratulating ourselves at our greater tolerance as we watch Europe struggling with the sudden influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Middle East, or the United States with the accumulated backlog of millions of illegal immigrants from Mexico and points south.

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