September’s Significant Drop in Asylum Seekers

Compared to August’s High Number of Refugee Claimants Crossing into Canada at Irregular Borders, September Saw a Drastic Decrease in These Numbers

This summer saw an extremely high number of asylum seekers crossing into Canada at irregular borders, most of them passing through to Quebec. Apparently, this high number may have been due (in part) to inaccurate information spreading online about the ease of gaining permanent resident status in Canada. In response to this, the Canadian government clarified that not everyone who files a refugee claim would automatically be granted asylum status in Canada; if their claim is not successful, they may still face deportation to their home country. Perhaps, in part due to the Canadian government’s response, the number of asylum seekers crossing into Canada has dropped significantly. For more information about making an asylum claim in Canada, contact a refugee law office.

According to a Global News article, the number of asylum seekers crossing into Canada at irregular Canada-U.S. borders decreased by more than two-thirds in September, following August’s peak numbers. In August, many people crossed the border and entered into Canada daily, with a total of 5,712 people for the entire month. But the month of September saw only 1,881.

After U.S. President Donald Trump announced the end of protected status for Haitians (those who left Haiti following the devastating 2010 earthquake), many Haitians turned to Haitian communities in Canada, most notably in Montreal. However, it seems the rumours of guaranteed permanent resident status in Canada may have spread to online communities, encouraging many to cross the Quebec-U.S. border.

The influx of asylum seekers this year has caused a lengthy backlog in processing refugee claims. Now, the wait time is up to 16 months for a hearing. During this wait, asylum seekers are forced to live in limbo, unsure of whether they can start their new life in Canada or if they need to brace themselves for deportation.

It’s been reported that a high number of asylum claims have been accepted this year, showing that claimants have a real fear and risk of persecution in their home countries. Immigration officials are also sympathetic to those fearing Trump and his anti-immigration stance.

While many of these claimants are gaining refugee status, the Canadian immigration department does not plan to allocate any more resources to the refugee board to help reduce the backlog of claims and the long wait time that follows. It’s possible that immigration officials hope that the drop in asylum seekers this September will ease the burden on the refugee system, and would rather put their efforts towards preventing more illegal border crossings than spend resources to help speed up the wait times for those who have already arrived.  However, this is a short-sighted approach as reflected in the already long wait times of 16 months for a hearing.  The government should act immediately to address this situation before the backlog grows to several years, with significant negative consequences.

If you have any questions or would like to know more about the asylum claims process, contact a refugee law office and get the help you need.