Looking to stem an unprecedented flow of mostly Haitian asylum seekers illegally crossing its border, Canada dispatched a Haiti-born parliamentarian to Miami Thursday to meet with community leaders.
Emmanuel Dubourg, a member of parliament and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party, met with nearly two dozen Haitian community leaders and immigration advocates at Notre Dame d’Haïti Catholic Church in Little Haïti.
Dubourg said he hoped to better understand the factors pushing Haitians to sell everything they own and head to Canada. He also came to counter misinformation, he said, about the country’s immigration laws.
“If they come irregularly to Canada, the risk is they are going to go back,” Dubourg said, while visiting the Little Haiti Cultural Complex ahead of his meeting with leaders. “In about six months, a year, a year-and-a-half, they are going to go back to their country. And if after a few days, let’s say 30 days, they don’t go back by themselves, we are going to deport them and if we deport them, the door is completely closed for them and their family.”
More than 3,800 migrants have flowed into French-speaking Quebec from upstate New York during the first two weeks of this month, Royal Canadian Mounted Police spokesman Claude Castonguay said last week. In July, police arrested 2,984 near the same illegal crossing. In June, there were just 781 arrests.
The flow has been fueled by concerns over the fate of Temporary Protected Status, the special humanitarian relief given to Haiti since its devastating 2010 earthquake left more than 300,000 dead. Many of those fleeing to Canada are under the impression that the Trump administration, which renewed the status for only six months, has ended it. While the administration has been increasingly signaling that it may end the status for Haitians in January, it has not yet made a decision.
While not all of the Haitians fleeing to Canada are from Miami, Dubourg came to Miami because of its large Haitian community and its connections to Haitians in New York, Haiti and elsewhere.
Marleine Bastien, a Haitian community activist, who was among those who met with Dubourg, said she wants the Canadian government to put a moratorium on deportations to Haiti.
“I just came from Haiti,” she said, “and I’ve never see anything like this … I was flabbergasted by what I saw in Haiti so I know Haiti is not ready to welcome or absorb any refugees right now.”