This past Easter weekend is perhaps the harbinger of a new crisis to come this summer in illegal entry into Canada.
Border officials say they now fear a mass migration of Salvadorans from the U.S. later this year.
During the long Easter weekend about 150 migrants a day entered illegally into Canada at the U.S. –Quebec border. In less than a week more than 700 migrants had made asylum claims.
In an interview with The Canadian Press, the president of the Customs and Immigration Union, Jean-Pierre Fortin said a majority of this recent wave were Nigerians living in the U.S. illegally.
U.S President Trump has been threatening to revoke the temporary protection status (TPS) legislation for hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. This has allowed people from war torn countries, or countries devastated by natural disasters to live and work in the U.S until it is safe for them to return home.
Thousands of Haitians who had TPS and who feared being sent back to Haiti have crossed illegally last year into Canada to demand asylum, mostly at an unprotected border area in Quebec. Saying the unprotected border is a federal issue, the province recently sent a bill to Ottawa and taxpayers for $146 million to cover the various costs associated with dealing with the migrants last year, costs which are ongoing. It is estimated that processing of claims by itself costs between $15,000-$20,000 each. Most failed claimants require money to be returned home, with tickets costing an average of $1,500 for those going willingly, to $15,000 for those who need to be escorted.
Unlike the wave of mostly “temporarily protected” Haitians fearing expulsion from the U.S., the Nigerians were simply living illegally in the U.S and are crossing into Canada to “normalize” their status, according to Fortin.
U.S President Trump has said illegal migration into the U.S poses a threat to national security. Fearing a mass influx from a so-called “caravan” of migrants from Central America crossing through Mexico and heading for the U.S. he has sent troops to aid border officials.
In Canada, Prime Minister Trudeau has said our immigration system is “robust and secure” regardless of whether people arrive by plane, or cross illegally. He has pledged $173 million towards helping border officials deal with the influx of migrants from the U.S.
Fortin says however, they expect a mass of Salvadorans in the coming months and says border officials haven’t the resources to cope.
There are currently over 250,000 Salvadorans living in the U.S under TPS and there are fears many could try to enter Canada if their temporary protection in the U.S is revoked.