Canada is sending a Spanish-speaking lawmaker to California to dissuade potential migrants from illegally crossing the border following Washington’s decision to end the temporary protected status of some 200,000 Salvadorans.
The trip was planned in anticipation of Monday’s decision by U.S. President Donald Trump and is part of a Canadian government attempt to prevent an influx of border-crossers.
It is related to the prevention that happened in 2017 after the U.S. said it would end temporary protected status granted to some 50,000 Haitians following a devastating earthquake in the Caribbean nation in 2010.
Many Haitians sought asylum in Canada based on expectations that they would easily be granted refugee status, the government said, leading lawmakers to reach out to diaspora communities to dispel such misinformation.
Like the Haitians, roughly 200,000 Salvadorans already living in the U.S. were granted protected status in 2001 following a major earthquake in El Salvador.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Monday said the protected status would end in September 2019.
“The Canadian government is “prepared” for a possible influx of border-crossing asylum seekers, but does not expect one,’’ Hursh Jaswal, spokesman for Immigration and Refugee Minister Ahmed Hussen said.
“The ministry is sending Member of Parliament Pablo Rodriguez to California to talk to government officials and immigration groups about how Canada’s immigration and refugee system works.’’
Rodriguez is at least the third official whom Canada has sent to the U.S. in recent months to dispel misinformation about winning asylum.
Most recently, the immigration minister himself went to Minneapolis, which is home to the largest Somali population in the U.S.
No fewer than 18,000 asylum seekers illegally crossed the U.S. border into Canada in 2017 to file refugee claims, almost 17,000 of whom went to the primarily French-speaking province of Quebec.
Asylum seekers cross illegally because under a U.S.-Canada agreement they will be turned back if they try to file refugee claims at formal land border crossings, because asylum seekers must file claims in the first country where they land, unless they meet certain exemptions.
Refugee status requires a claimant to convince decision-makers of a well-founded fear of persecution in his or her country of origin.
Angela Ventura, a representative of a Salvadoran-Canadian association in Windsor, Ontario, said she expects Salvadorans in the U.S. to move north following Monday’s announcement.
“Many of them have reasonable grounds for claiming refugee status in Canada.
“The situation in El Salvador is extremely dangerous,’’ Toronto refugee lawyer Raoul Boulakia.
Canada treats some claims for asylum differently than does the U.S.
According to Immigration and Refugee Board statistics, over 500 Salvadorans claimed refugee status in Canada from January to September 2017, which double the total for 2016 and more than any year since at least 2013.
About two-thirds of the claimants whose cases were finalised were granted refugee status.