On Friday, Federal Member of Parliament (M.P.) for Bourassa, Emmanuel Dubourg, wrapped up a series of meetings with the Haitian Community in Miami, Florida. He was there representing the Intergovernmental Task Force of “Irregular Migration”
His meetings were part of Canada’s effort to counter false information being spread by social media apps such as WhatsApp suggesting the country gives asylum-seekers a free pass. This is not true.
The information is not a message from the Government of Canada. Strict processes are in place for all those seeking refugee protection, regardless of how they enter Canada. Those entering irregularly are taken by RCMP to an official crossing where they are held for 48 hours for processing, and then released pending the outcome of an asylum hearing.
Dubourg met with local officials, community leaders, and national media looking at ways to dispel the myths circulating about Canada’s immigration laws. He also sought to inform Miami’s Haitian diaspora numbering at approximately 300,000 strong about the significant risks facing those entering Canada through irregular channels.
MP Dubourg was first briefed by Canada’s Counsul General in Miami, Susan Harper, where he was given a lay of the land of the community.
He then met City Clerk Alix Desulme, himself of Haitian descent, the first Black American to serve in this capacity for the City of North Miami. MP Dubourg also highlighted Canada and Haiti’s strong bilateral relationship with Haiti’s Counsul General, Thomas Gandy. Canada and Haiti have developed a close relationship, with, shared language and numerous people-to-people ties uniting the two countries.
He also travelled to the Notre Dame Catholic Church in the historical neighbourhood of Little Haiti to inform influential members of the community about Canada’s strong rules-based immigration system.
MP Dubourg concluded the day with a series of interviews with Haitian, Canadian and U.S.-based media where he had the opportunity to speak directly to this tight-knit community.
He reinforced the message that the Government of Canada discourages people from entering Canada outside of designated ports of entry. It can be dangerous and is a violation of our laws.
MP Dubourg also stressed that under the law, anyone claiming asylum in Canada has the right to due process. However, there are no guarantees that an asylum seeker will be allowed to stay in Canada at the end of this process. For example, a significant portion of all asylum claims made by Haitian nationals in 2016 were rejected, and the claimants were obligated to leave Canada.
As well, he noted that asylum seekers crossing the border into Canada from the U.S. who are under Temporary Protected Status (TPS) may think that this status applies in Canada. The TPS on the U.S. does not apply in Canada.