The Refugees Crisis: US does not care, but Canada does

By Rubens Mukunzi

Recently I received a phone call of my friend from Hattiesburg, MS. The friend was born and raised in Haiti and moved to Mississippi couple years ago hoping to process his asylum case quickly and bring his family in USA.

During this phone call, he asked how he could cross the border of Buffalo to enter  Canada. Based on what I knew, I said that it was not possible to enter without a visa and advised him not to cross illegally because he might lose his case and risk being deported back in Haiti if he were detained.

He told me that he had heard that people were crossing now the border because Canada started welcoming them after President Trump decided not extend the temporary asylum that was granted over 50,000 Haitians affected by an earthquake in 2010. Not only that, during our conversation he told me that Canada is accepting anyone seeking asylum.

He added “ I’ve been living in USA since 2011 after the earthquake in my country. Until today I did get my resident status in US. I have difficulties to bring my family from Haiti and there is not hope that President Trump will give us a chance to stay in this country, my special status is due to the end of this year, so I don’t have [a] choice”.

After couple weeks I received a text message from my friend from Haiti. He texted in French “ Je suis au Canada” means “ Now I’m in Canada” then he added “ Now, I’m free and I can speak French”.  I was surprised and curious how he crossed the border.

Two days later, he called me on his friend’s cell phone in a refugee camp in Quebec south of Montreal. I couldn’t believe he was speaking from Quebec. He explained to me how he crossed a non-official border crossing and was received by police in the refugee camp. He told me “ there is a lot of asylum seeker crossing the border, not only Haitians but yesterday I met people from Asia and Africa coming here. Yesterday, at least 400 people jumped the border, so far thousands and thousands of the people are welcomed and I think the number will continue to rise. The government is helping us now.”

He also  noted that “in the U.S., as an asylum seeker I never had any support from the government, no food stamps, nothing! But here they give us everything: the government has provided a shelter for us and soon they will be paying for my rent and I will have access to have food stamps and there is a lot of chances that my family will join me in a year while in the U.S., it would take four or five years. I feel more home now even if you’re not automatically accepted as a refugee”.

After my conversation with my friend from Quebec, I found myself wondering how the refugee situation has changed after Donald Trump was elected president. It’s not safe for people to stay in this country and for me, it’s a shame to lose people this way. Signing executive orders and banning refugees from entering the US has created fear among our community. We are losing men and women who could help improve this country.

Thank you

 

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