Canada says ready to deal with influx of asylum seekers from US

Refugees who crossed the Canada/US border illegally near Hemmingford, Quebec as they are processed in a tent after being arrested by the RCMP.
Refugees who crossed the Canada/US border illegally near Hemmingford, Quebec as they are processed in a tent after being arrested by the RCMP.PHOTO: AFP

OTTAWA (AFP) - Canada said on Tuesday (Nov 21) it is ready to deal with an influx of asylum seekers after Washington announced it would soon end protections granted to Haitians following a deadly 2010 earthquake.

"We've been planning for every conceivable scenario," Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said.

Some 59,000 Haitian immigrants in the United States will lose their Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in 18 months, the US announced on Monday, opening the door for their potential repatriation to their desperately poor home country.

The US government has also ended a TPS programme for 5,300 Nicaraguan immigrants, effective January 2019, while tens of thousands of Hondurans had their stay extended until July.

A decision on the status of some 200,000 people from El Salvador, who are believed to be the largest group of TPS recipients by nationality, is expected in January.

The United States had welcomed nationals from these Latin American countries, which were hit hard by Hurricane Mitch in 1998.

"The Americans had indicated to us in various conversations... that they would try very hard to give us advance notice (about decisions to end TPS)," Goodale told reporters.

"And it would appear that they are taking a gradual approach."

"We've had contingency planning underway now for some time, working also with provinces and municipalities to make sure that we can do two things: number one, enforce all Canadian laws; and number two, meet all Canadian obligations under international conventions."

Over the summer a flood of asylum seekers, mostly Haitian nationals, avoided checkpoints and walked across the border from the United States into Canada.

Since the start of the year, their numbers swelled to nearly 17,000, according to immigration ministry figures.