More Americans than ever are seeking asylum in Canada, fleeing a country that doesn’t want them and facing an uncertain future when their applications are denied, The Guardian is reporting.
The number of Americans fleeing to Canada to seek political asylum – which is to say, seeking citizenship in a foreign land because they fear terrorism or persecution in their own – has increased six times over since the beginning of the Trump administration. In fact, Americans are the third-largest group of asylum-seekers trying to make a permanent home in Canada, the first and second being Haitians and Nigerians, respectively.
For the most part, the 2,550 Americans who sought asylum in Canada in 2017 are either minor children who were born here to parents who themselves came to the U.S. illegally or are their families coming with them because they don’t want to be separated. And the vast majority of them first fled Haiti, the desperately-poor Caribbean island nation that has been beset by crime and political violence for decades. They believe that if they stay in the U.S. they’ll be deported back to Haiti.
Donald Trump, who called Haiti a “s**thole country” according to NBC News, has said that Haitians who come to the U.S. illegally are not welcome here. In November 2017, as Vox reported at the time, Trump told the estimated 59,000 Haitians living in the U.S. illegally that they have until 2019 to make other arrangements or face deportation.
One year ago, a Haitian police operation turned into a massacre at the Maranatha school in Grand Ravine. 9 were killed, the school ransacked, the director arrested. Today, students and faculty commemorated their loss. Nobody has yet to be held accountable. https://t.co/jCcKVaW43o— Jake Johnston (@JakobJohnston) November 13, 2018
What’s more, the fact that for many of the migrants, they gave birth to babies on U.S. soil, making them U.S. citizens per the Constitution, doesn’t appear to hold much water with the Trump administration. Trump has threatened to end so-called “birthright citizenship,” although whether or not he has the power to do that remains in dispute.
Tiroude and Gislyne are two such Haitians. They eventually made their way to the U.S., after which Gislyne gave birth, making their baby a U.S. citizen. Nevertheless, they believe that staying in the states is a fool’s game, and they are seeking asylum in Canada.
Unfortunately for them, the odds aren’t good. Though the country’s new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that “those fleeing persecution, terror, and war” are “welcome” in the country, the reality is that Canadian immigration authorities approve fewer than one in four asylum applications from Haitian applicants.
If they’re denied asylum in Canada, says Tiroude, they’ll have to return to a land that is to them a foreign country.
“Going to Haiti as a parent is dangerous. For my kids it’s worse because they don’t know it. They won’t know how to speak Creole. We’re very pessimistic.”