Canadian Army Steps in to Help with U.S. Asylum Seekers
U.S. Asylum Seekers – In response to the influx of asylum seekers from the U.S. and at the request made by Public Safety Canada, a hundred Canadian Soldiers were deployed to Quebec’s Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle border Yesterday to build what could be the first temporary refugee camp in Canada.
In Montreal there are many people who support the initiative – understanding and acknowledging that Canada was built with immigrants (many of them refugees and asylum seekers) and offering whatever help they can. But there are those who vehemently do not, mostly concerned about issues such as claiming the funds used to help them are being taken away from programs such as welfare, or citing the neglect of the homeless in the city. They would have the asylum seekers turned away – families with children included. The confusion seems to lie in the mix of political issues and the needs of those desperately trying to find a better life for themselves – as did many families of those who make up Canada today.
In a statement, the Armed Forces said the camp will be able accommodate up to 500 people in modular tents with floors, lighting and heating. They will be supplied with food, water, blankets and access to bathrooms ‘to at least ensure a basic level of comfort’.
The majority of the asylum seekers are Haitians who had been living in the United States, but fear being deported back to Haiti. Last May, President Trump announced that Haitians would no longer have special protected status in the U.S. as of January 2018 – protection granted to them following the earthquake in 2010 where they lost everything.
But among the new arrivals are also many Indian, Mexican, Colombian and Turkish nationals, who have come to Canada in the wake of Trump’s anti-immigrant election campaign and statements.
There’s no guarantee the asylum seekers will be able to stay in Canada. A claimant must demonstrate he or she has a ‘legitimate fear of persecution, war or other violence in their country of origin’.
In Canada, asylum seekers are entitled to a hearing before the Immigration and Refugee Board within 60 days of filing a claim. Over the past few years, 40 to 50 per cent of Haitian claimants have been granted refugee status, while Canada began to deport failed Haitian claimants in March 2017. Since then, 296 Haitian nationals have been deported -19 to Haiti and 277 to the United States.
Also on Wednesday, the Quebec government announced that the Royal Victoria Hospital will be opened to house around 300 refugees.