MPs prepare to head south to dissuade asylum seekers in U.S. from heading north once protected status expires

Part of the toolkit integrated into a social media strategy:

Members of Parliament are planning trips to the U.S. in the coming weeks to try to stem a potential new flow of asylum seekers to Canada.

Haitians who have been living in the U.S. under temporary protected status since the 2010 earthquake are facing potential deportation as of Nov. 22 unless the U.S. Department of Homeland Security renews their status, which it is not expected to do.

“We don’t know what the U.S. will do to remove those people so we are doing messaging and using social media,” said Emmanuel Dubourg, Liberal member of Parliament for the Bourassa riding in Quebec.

Dubourg said he and two other MPs will be going to the U.S. in the next two weeks to try to dissuade asylum seekers from Haiti, Africa, Central America and elsewhere from trying their luck in Canada in the same way that thousands of others have in the past year: by walking across the U.S.-Canada border at unofficial crossing points and applying for asylum once they get to Canada.

The RCMP has intercepted more than 15,000 asylum seekers crossing illegally between official ports of entry since January, the bulk of them in Quebec during the months of July through September.

Haitian-born Liberal MP Emmanuel Dubourg will be travelling to New York next week to meet with the Haitian immigrants who are likely to lose their temporary protected status later this month and whom he fears could try to cross into Canada illegally. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)

“The main reason is to tell them we have a robust immigration law and that they should use the right channels to come to Canada instead of crossing in between the borders,” Dubourg said of his planned trip.

Canadian diplomats from a dozen consulates are also reaching out to non-governmental organizations, politicians and community groups, with a special focus on New York, Florida and California.

The government has recently issued blunt warnings that crossing into Canada illegally is not a free ticket to a new life. The Canada Border Services Agency has posted signs near irregular entry points to warn migrants against making an illegal crossing.

Canadian officials are also using social media to counter fake information that could be encouraging migrants to enter Canada. This was a significant factor in the surge of Haitians attempting crossings this summer so the government has started publishing videos online in Creole to push back against misinformation.

A Creole language pamphlet for Haitians in the U.S. spelling out legal ways to apply for asylum in Canada and advising against crossing illegally. Dubourg brought it with him when he visited the U.S. in the summer to meet with the Haitian community. (Emmanuel Dubourg)

Dubourg’s efforts will focus on the Haitian community in New York City, he said.

via MPs prepare to head south to dissuade asylum seekers in U.S. from heading north once protected status expires – Politics – CBC News

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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