Border Crossing Offers No Guarantee Of Refugee Status, Canadian Consulate Says

Sep 18, 2017
Originally published on September 19, 2017 3:07 pm

Canada is trying to get the word out that walking into the country isn't necessarily a ticket to citizenship.

The Consulate General of Canada in Boston is putting out press releases in English, French and Spanish warning those who might be considering traveling north that there's no guarantee they will be granted asylum upon reaching Canada.

The actions come in response to thousands of asylum-seekers flooding into Canada from the U.S. this year, crossing illegally along back roads, the majority in northern New York. The consulate reports seeing misleading messages on various social media sites.

"There was some social media messages on WhatsApp that suggested that Canada was actually inviting individuals to come to Canada, which is completely false," said Frank Ruddock, acting consul general in Boston.

Ruddock says other Canadian Consulates across the U.S., and some in Latin America, have been working to correct this false impression.

He also notes that people from Haiti who have Temporary Protected Status in the U.S. don't necessarily qualify for an refugee status in Canada, and there has been misinformation about this. 

So far in 2017 more than 10,000 seekers have crossed into Canada , and it's unclear how many meet the conditions to be granted refugee status. 

"Somebody who is claiming asylum needs to demonstrate they require our protection as they are fleeing persecution," says Ruddock. "Everything will be on a case by case basis."

In response to the large influx of refugee-seekers, the Canadian police have set up a tent to process those who are illegally crossing the border at a popular rural road in upstate New York.

People who cross in this manner are arrested by the police, but if the police determine they have no criminal record and don't present any potential threat, the arrest is largely a formality. The asylum-seekers are then released and given aid in filling out refugee request paperwork. 

"Yes, there's a process, but there's no guarantee whatsoever that the process will permit them to remain," says Ruddock.

This report comes from the New England News Collaborative. Eight public media companies coming together to tell the story of a changing region, with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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