According to Canadian officials, asylum applications from United States citizens have seen a six fold increase in the first year of the Trump Administration. Over 2,550 US citizens applied for asylum in Canada, the largest spike in applications from US citizens since 1994, according to data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. In an interview with the Guardian, Montreal based immigration lawyer Stéphane Handfield said that the US applicants were disproportionately “children of non-residents” and seek asylum in Canada to prevent family separation.
End of TPS in US
Over the last year, the Trump Administration has ended several programs granting temporary protected status, or TPS. The program permits individual’s of certain nationality to remain in the US without risk of deportation. Additionally, TPS allows protected nationals to obtain an employment authorization document and apply for travel authorization. Countries are typically protected under TPS following an extreme natural disaster or outbreak of war. However, several nationals, including those from Haiti and Nepal which experienced devastating earthquakes, have lost protected status. Without TPS, these foreign nationals may not work legally in the US and must leave the country. Spurred by the end of protected status and continued negative immigration rhetoric, families with US-born children have fled the United States to Canada to avoid separation.
Response from Canada
The vast majority of asylum seekers traveling to Canada are from Haiti and Nigeria. Citizens from the United States, ranked third for asylum seeks, are primarily the children of non-citizens from the above-mentioned countries. Without protections in the United States, many Haitian families believe they can cross into Canada without penalty. However, representatives from the Canadian government warn against undocumented crossings. In response to the influx of asylum seekers Canada’s minister of immigration, Ahmed Hussen spoke with the New York Times. “We don’t want people to illegally enter our border and doing so is not a free ticket to Canada,” Mr. Hussen said in an interview. “We are saying, ‘You will be apprehended, screened, detained, fingerprinted, and if you can’t establish a genuine claim, you will be denied refugee protection and removed.”