Salvadoran asylum seekers fleeing to Canada from the United States may have a legitimate claim, according to the vice-president of the Salvadoran Canadian Association.
Some 200,000 Salvadoran immigrants allowed to live and work in the United States since 2001 will lose their right to remain in the country in 2019, officials said Monday, marking the Trump administration's latest move to tighten immigration enforcement.
The United States will end the Salvadorans' temporary protected status (TPS) on Sept. 9, 2019, giving them 18 months to leave or seek lawful residency, and for El Salvador to prepare for their return, administration officials said.
In an interview with CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning, Miguel Callejas pointed out that with one of the world's highest homicide rates and rampant gang activity, El Salvador remains too unstable for many to return.
"The country is not secure, there is a lot of violence going on and it's been like that for so many years."
'I'm getting a lot of phone calls'
Callejas said he's fielded many calls from Salvadorans looking to move north before their TPS is lifted.
"I'm getting a lot of phone calls, and basically I explain to them, you have to go and look for an embassy, see what the procedure is that you have to take."
Callejas said he's urging those who wish to come to Canada to go through formal channels rather than go straight to the border.
Roughly 200,000 Salvadorans were granted protected status in the U.S. in 2001 after a major earthquake rocked El Salvador.
Similar circumstances last summer resulted in thousands of Haitians crossing the border into Canada from the U.S. Only 10 per cent of those who crossed into Canada have been granted refugee status.
Last November the U.S. announced it was ending temporary protected status granted to Haitians in 2010, giving them until July 2019 to return to their home country.