MONTREAL, Quebec, CA (sentinel.ht) – Some in the Montreal Haitian community believe their compatriots seeking refuge in Canada are being misled on social media about Canada’s immigration and refugee policy.
Occurring, is after gathering their belongings and entering Canada, some refugees are discovering that Canada ended its program granting special status to Haitian refugees back in 2016.
The U.S. granted many Haitians a temporary protected status that was due to expire in June of this year but it was extended by the Trump administration through January 2018. Due to fears the status would not be extended again, many are fleeing to Canada.
Marjorie Villefranche of the Maison d’Haiti says that many are hearing incorrectly on social media that Canada has lax immigration and refugee rules.
“I saw a lot of people telling them that it’s very easy to come here, so you just cross the border and you know you’ll be safe an everything will be all right for you,” said Villefranche as quoted by CTV – Montreal.
“They will be safe, that’s true, but they will not be all right because they have to go through a process,” said Villefranche.
Immigration lawyer Richard Neil Goldman said those refugees entering Canada and waiting in shelters, like those at the Olympic Stadium, have to go through basic background checks before being released.
“Coming to Canada, putting your feet inside the border gives you the right to be heard, to tell your story. It doesn’t mean your story will be accepted,” said Goldman.
He said there are many reasons for a person to be rejected, including having “a very serious criminal record or having already a refugee status in another country like France or Germany or something like that.”
Goldman said that the background check used to take 72 hours, but because of the increase in applications that first stage examination is now taking up to two months.
The refugee status hearing comes later, but with the background check completed people can send their children to school, get basic healthcare and a work permit.
About half of refugee claimants are accepted and permitted to remain, with the rest being sent deported. It’s a chance many are willing to take.
“When you leave everything and arrive here with your suitcase, you must be desperate,” said Villefranche.
Radio host Vladimir Gelin, who has been urging the Montreal community to help those coming into the country said that most of the applicants have no interest in taking advantage of the system.
“What they want is to work and support their family,” said Gelin.
“The jobs that you and I won’t take, as Canadians, they’re ready to do at minimum wage.”