British Columbia

Stateless U.S. residents claiming refugee status in Canada expected to increase, lawyer says

A Canadian immigration lawyer says he expects to see thousands of stateless U.S. residents to apply for refugee status in Canada in the coming months.

'We can expect to see thousands of new cases streaming over the Canadian border and there's nothing we can do'

Asylum seekers move carefully along a railway overpass in Emerson, Man., early Sunday morning. (John Woods/Canadian Press)

Canadian immigration lawyer Richard Kurland says he expects to see an influx of refugee claims in Canada from stateless residents who have been living in the U.S. for decades.

"We expect to see a rush in Canada of a very large number of people from the United States with immigration problems," said Kurland.

"They see and hear President Trump — they know what's coming. To save themselves, they will not go home — they will come to Canada to either buy time or buy a solution."

Kurland made the comments when he was asked about people like Waji Danoun — a 57-year-old man who lived in the U.S. for 39 years and has now filed a refugee claim in Canada. 

"In the short run we can expect to see thousands of new cases streaming over the Canadian border and there's nothing we can do about it," he said.

"President Trump's enforcement policy is going to squeeze the immigration toothpaste tube in the United States and up the top they come to Canada."

Immigration lawyer Richard Kurland says Canada can expect to see an influx of refugee claims from people who have been living in the U.S. as stateless residents. (Don Marce/CBC News)
Danoun is claiming asylum in Canada after he says his employment authorization card was not renewed this year in Oregon.

"There was a deportation order standing against me in the United States," he said.

"The United States deemed me a stateless person because Lebanon — the country of my birth, does not have a record of my birth."

Danoun said he arrived in the U.S. in 1978 on a falsified passport, but was able to legally work and stay in the country for 39 years. 

Waji Danoun has filed a refugee claim in B.C. after his employment authorization card in the U.S. was not renewed. He has lived in the United States for 39 years and fears he will be deported back to Lebanon. (Mike Zimmer/CBC News)

"I was under immigration probation … I was given an employment authorization … and was allowed to work and [had to] report periodically." 

But this year, Danoun said, his employment card was not renewed.

Kurland said the chances are slim that any of these types of refugee claims would be successful in Canada.

"It's a very difficult wall to mount ... you have to prove genuine fear of persecution from the government in the United States."