Spurred largely by misinformation about Canada’s immigration system, more than 7000 asylum seekers have illegally crossed into Canada from the United States at unmanned checkpoints since June, according to the RCMP. Canadian Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen has denied claims his department and the government were unprepared for the influx. Nevertheless, Canada is now taking steps to prevent more entries.
Incorrect Information at Root of the Cause
Asylum seekers began entering the country ahead of stated US plans to end protected status for Haiti citizens in the US. According to Canadian authorities , many asylum seekers entered Canada with the mistaken belief that Canada’s laws would permit them to stay, misinformation which was allegedly spread via social media.
In fact, Canada has already ended its protected status for Haitian nationals. In addition, persons in the United States seeking asylum status in Canada are required by immigration laws to apply for asylum status within the United States. Those crossing into Canada across the border may be denied asylum status, according to authorities.
Efforts to Address the Increase in Number
Now, immigration and government authorities are trying to curtail the numbers entering Canada at unmanned border points by using social media to refute the inaccurate information. In addition, a Liberal MP has been sent to Miami to try to spread more accurate information about immigration policies while the Prime Minister meets with Haitian community members and a task force on irregular migration is established. While these efforts are ongoing, the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) is taking steps to handle the growing number of claims.
Challenges in Immigration
At least some asylum-seekers have noted that Canada’s stated policies were one reason why they chose to enter the country. The Prime Minister tweeted In January that those who flee war and persecution are welcome in Canada. Authorities have pointed out that while this is true, anyone entering the country irregularly does so illegally. Nevertheless, critics of the Prime Minister have said his tweet sent “mixed messages” to asylum seekers and may have contributed to many crossing the border.
While the country seeks to find solutions to the increase of entrants across its borders, small numbers of anti-immigration protests have been staged in a number of cities, including Hamilton, Vancouver, and Quebec City. At one point, an anti-immigration banner was placed on the Montreal Olympic Stadium, which has been acting as temporary housing for asylum seekers. The banner was quickly removed and authorities, as well as counter-protestors, were quick to speak out against anti-immigration groups staging the demonstrations across the country.