Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Latest shift in U.S. immigration policy prompts renewed Liberal outreach

Three RCMP officers walk near the U.S.-Canada border near Hemmingford, Que., on March 28, 2017.

Paul Chiasson/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Liberal MPs are headed back to the U.S. to fend off a new surge of asylum seekers at the Canada-U.S. border following the latest move by the U.S. to tighten its immigration policy.

The Trump administration has placed around 5,000 Nicaraguans on notice that their temporary status in the U.S. will be revoked in the next year, while nearly 86,000 Hondurans have been given an extension until July, at which point their status could be revoked.

Upwards of 200,000 Salvadorans are also awaiting a decision on their status, which is expected in the coming weeks.

Story continues below advertisement

Pablo Rodriguez, who represents a Montreal-area riding, said Wednesday he's headed to Texas to reach out to all three communities after myths circulating earlier this year prompted hundreds of people a day to cross illegally into Canada in search of asylum, fearing the end of the temporary status program in the U.S.

"We want to make sure that people have all the facts and what we're telling them is before selling your house, leaving your job, picking up the kids from school, make sure you understand the rules," Rodriguez said.

Temporary protected status spares people from deportation and gives them quasi-legal status in the U.S., so they can work or go to school. It's extended for things like major natural disasters, such as the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, that can make deporting people a potential violation of humanitarian law. But critics saw it as an overly permissive policy in need of being reined in, something the U.S. began doing last spring.

A decision by U.S. officials in May to only extend protection to Haitian nationals for six more months, rather than the usual 18, was cited as a major factor behind the hundreds of Haitians who daily made the illegal crossing into Canada over the summer to request asylum, rather than face deportation back to Haiti.

Some were motivated by fake social media messages about special immigration programs that would smooth their paths here; in fact, Canada still deports Haitian nationals, and their asylum acceptance rate was only about 50 per cent in 2016.

The Liberals sent MP Emmanuel Dubourg to Miami earlier this year to combat that misinformation, and Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen said Wednesday he's also being sent back the U.S. to continue the work.

Briefing notes prepared by officials at Global Affairs earlier this year said Haitian government officials also believe some of those entering Canada were actually just transiting through the U.S. from Brazil.

Story continues below advertisement

The briefing notes describing the factors driving asylum seekers were obtained by the Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act. They also suggest the influx of Haitians wasn't connected to any current developments in Haiti, where notwithstanding rampant poverty and poor health conditions, the overall security and stability situation remains "calm and steady."

Rodriguez and other government officials have said so far, there's no sign of a mass migration of Central Americans.

But there could be, the briefing notes suggest.

A lack of economic opportunities, fear of violence and insecurity and climate change are key drivers for illegal migration from the region, and the notes point out the UN refugee agency has recently said migrants themselves are often victims of violence, sexual abuse and human trafficking.

"As a result of an increase in deportation from the United States, the termination of a program that allowed protection to Central American children, and the expected termination of a temporary protected status program in the United States, Canada is likely to become a more popular alternative."

Report an error
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

If your comment doesn't appear immediately it has been sent to a member of our moderation team for review

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading…

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.