Fleeing to Ca­na­da

Fuir vers le Ca­na­da

Vocable (Anglais) - - Édito / Sommaire -

Des ré­fu­giés haï­tiens tra­versent la fron­tière.

Après le trem­ble­ment de terre de 2010, des mil­liers d’Haï­tiens se sont ré­fu­giés aux Etats-Unis. Mais la pro­tec­tion dont ils bé­né­fi­cient sur le sol amé­ri­cain pour­rait être re­mise en ques­tion par l’ad­mi­nis­tra­tion Trump. De peur d’être ex­pul­sés en jan­vier pro­chain, les Haï­tiens af­fluent dé­sor­mais vers le Ca­na­da. Le gou­ver­ne­ment de Jus­tin Tru­deau tente de les en dis­sua­der.

The Fa­ce­book posts and WhatsApp mes­sages pro­mi­sing safe ha­ven in Ca­na­da claim to have the bles­sing of the Ca­na­dian go­vern­ment. Creole-lan­guage ra­dio sta­tions of­fer up consul­tants gi­ving free and paid consul­ta­tions for Hai­tians see­king re­si­den­cy across the U.S. bor­der. Bor­der ci­ties such as Mon­treal are wel­co­ming im­mi­grants with open arms, or so the sto­ries go. 2. Hai­tians in the US, fear­ful of the Trump ad­mi­nis­tra­tion’s cra­ck­down on im­mi­grants but un­willing to re­turn to the grin­ding po­ver­ty of their ho­me­land, have re­spon­ded by the thou­sands. They’ve quit their jobs, sold their pos­ses­sions and ta­ken planes, buses and even taxis to the US-Ca­na­da bor­der.

3. The num­ber of mi­grants ille­gal­ly cros­sing in­to French-spea­king Que­bec more than tri­pled in Ju­ly, with ano­ther 3,800-plus en­te­ring in just the first half of Au­gust. And now Ca­na­da is ag­gres­si­ve­ly trying to stem the flow and dis­pel the myths that have trig­ge­red an un­pre­ce­den­ted exo­dus of most­ly Hai­tian asy­lum see­kers.

4. Ca­na­dian consu­lates across the US have been mo­bi­li­zed. And Prime Mi­nis­ter Jus­tin Tru­deau dis­pat­ched his na­tion’s on­ly Hai­ti-born par­lia­men­ta­rian, Em­ma­nuel Du­bourg, to Miami, home to the lar­gest concen­tra­tion of Hai­tians in the US Ar­med with the Creole lan­guage and his own per­so­nal tale of mi­gra­ting to Ca­na­da from Hai­ti four de­cades ear­lier, Du­bourg was clear eve­ryw­here he went: There is no new

im­mi­gra­tion pro­gram for Hai­tians in Ca­na­da. “It’s not true that Ca­na­da is wide open,” Du­bourg said, as he vi­si­ted Miami’s Lit­tle Hai­ti Cultu­ral Cen­ter Com­plex. “Cros­sing the bor­der … is no free pass.”

RUMORS AND HOPE

5. Some asy­lum see­kers have ci­ted Tem­po­ra­ry Pro­tec­ted Sta­tus (TPS), the spe­cial hu­ma­ni­ta­rian pro­gram for Hai­tians that the Trump ad­mi­nis­tra­tion has si­gna­led may end in Ja­nua­ry, as their rea­son for fleeing north. But Du­bourg bla­med “mi­s­in­for­ma­tion cir­cu­la­ting” on so­cial me­dia.

6. One such mes­sage in French cir­cu­la­ted among Hai­tians on WhatsApp. It read: “The Con­sul of Ca­na­da in the USA held a mee­ting in New Jer­sey for more than two hours. It in­vites and even en­cou­rages all Hai­tians (with or wi­thout TPS) to ap­ply for a Ca­na­dian re­si­dence.” It even pro­vi­ded a phone num­ber to so­meone pur­por­ting to be a Creole-spea­king at­tor­ney, along with a line: “The fees will be re­du­ced by the Ca­na­dian go­vern­ment. In­form your­self and good luck.” But the num­ber doesn’t work.

7. Clau­dia Ro­ger, a Hai­tian na­tio­nal, said she sha­red the mes­sage on a WhatsApp group be­cause she be­lie­ved it was a le­gi­ti­mate ans­wer to ma­ny people’s prayers. “A lot of people are ha­ving this TPS pro­blem and they don’t know where to turn,” she said. “That’s not good. They are ta­king ad­van­tage of it. (People) are des­pe­rate and they are sca­red.”

8. Du­bourg said the Ca­na­dian go­vern­ment has laun­ched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion to un­co­ver who is behind the push to send Hai­tians north. Hai­tian lea­ders in Miami and New York al­so be­lieve there’s a pro­fit mo­tive. “I have Hai­tian people in New York in my dis­trict stop­ping me on the streets, co­ming to my of­fice to share with me their de­ci­sion to go to Mon­treal, be­cause they be­lieve that Ca­na­da has ope­ned the door for them,” said New York Ci­ty Coun­cil­man Ma­thieu Eu­gene. “Some of them say they heard that Ca­na­da is ac­cep­ting Hai­tian people with TPS. Some tell me that their friends are al­rea­dy in Ca­na­da, fa­mi­ly mem­bers are al­rea­dy there, and are tel­ling them, ‘You have to come over be­cause they re­cei­ved this, or they re­cei­ved that and Ca­na­da is going to give them au­tho­ri­za­tion to stay,’” Eu­gene said.

AN UNCERTAIN FU­TURE

9. Eu­gene said he tells them the fight for a re­ne­wal of TPS beyond the Ja­nua­ry ex­pi­ra­tion date is conti­nuing. “They don’t want to hear it,” he said. “It’s ve­ry dif­fi­cult to change their minds.” When he vi­si­ted Hai­tian asy­lum see­kers at a shel­ter in Mon­treal, Eu­gene said it be­came clear that ma­ny had made a rash de­ci­sion. “They were as­king me ques­tions, ‘What’s going to hap­pen? Are they going to send us back to the US? Are they going to give us the au­tho­ri­za­tion to stay?’” he said.

10. Se­na­tor Bill Nel­son of Flo­ri­da, spea­king at the Lit­tle Hai­ti Cultu­ral Cen­ter in Miami, re­ne­wed his call for an 18-month ex­ten­sion of TPS. The ille­gal mi­gra­tion to Ca­na­da by Hai­tians, Nel­son said, was “ano­ther rea­son why the ad­mi­nis­tra­tion should ex­tend, right now, the Tem­po­ra­ry Pro­tec­ted Sta­tus for the 60,000 Hai­tians that are here, so they don’t feel like they have to flee to Mexi­co or Ca­na­da in or­der not to have to go back to Hai­ti.”

11. The stea­dy stream of asy­lum see­kers — 10,000 since the be­gin­ning of the year — swee­ping in­to Que­bec has strai­ned go­vern­ment re­sources. With some Ca­na­dians now ques­tio­ning the in­te­gri­ty of their im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem in the wake of the surge, Tru­deau si­gna­led a slight­ly tou­gher im­mi­gra­tion stance than he had ear­lier. Ca­na­da, he said, re­mains a “wel­co­ming and open” so­cie­ty to those fleeing per­se­cu­tion and in need of pro­tec­tion but “we are al­so a coun­try of laws. En­te­ring Ca­na­da ir­re­gu­lar­ly is not an ad­van­tage. There are ri­go­rous im­mi­gra­tion and cus­toms rules that will be fol­lo­wed. Make no mis­take.”

(Ca­ro­lyn Cole/Los An­geles Times)

The Royal Ca­na­dian Moun­ted Po­lice stop a group of Hai­tians at­temp­ting to cross the bor­der ille­gal­ly, 28 Au­gust.

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