The Stream – Is Canada as welcoming to refugees as people think?

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So far in August, an unprecedented 4,000 people have crossed into Canada on foot from the United States, mainly from a secluded crossing in upstate New York that winds its way into Quebec. About 85 per cent are Haitian, according to Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Haitian immigrants living in the US fear that when the visas they were given after the 2010 earthquake expire in 2018, they will be deported back to Haiti by the anti-immigration administration of President Donald Trump. Many of them now also have children and families in the US.

Hundreds of asylum seekers also fill Montreal’s Olympic stadium as their future hangs in the balance. Canada’s army has set up tents to house them at the border while wait to have their cases heard. The influx has put a strain on public resources and has led to a debate over how best to deal with the crisis.

The government, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in particular, have also faced criticism that they have been sending a misleadingly positive message to would-be immigrants. The reality is that 50 per cent of Haitians that apply for asylum are rejected. The government said it is aware of false information being spread on social media about what services the Canadian government will pay for once a refugee crosses into Canada.

“You will not be at an advantage if you choose to enter Canada irregularly. You must follow the rules and there are many,” Trudeau said as that criticism grew. Other Canadian government officials have also been working to counter the message that Canada has an open-door policy for refugees. Haitian-Canadian MP Emmanuel Dubourg was even dispatched to Miami to help spread that message to the Haitian diaspora.

So what’s the reality for refugees and asylum seekers arriving in Canada? Join the conversation.

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On The Stream: Thousands of Haitians are crossing the U.S. border into Canada, fearing deportation

Thumbnail: A long line of asylum seekers wait to illegally cross the Canada/US border near Champlain, New York on August 6, 2017. In recent days the number of people illegally crossing the border has grown into the hundreds. (AFP/GEOFF ROBINS).

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