NYC councillor in Montreal to gather information for Haitian asylum seekers fleeing U.S.
Mathieu Eugène hopes to bring Haitians in U.S. real information about seeking asylum in Canada
A New York City councillor spoke at Montreal's Maison d'Haïti Tuesday about his search for answers on Canada's immigration policy, so that he can then relay the information to Haitians living in the United States on temporary protection status (TPS).
They say, 'Listen, the doors to Canada are open.- New York City councillor Mathieu Eugène
Mathieu Eugène said people tell him daily that they've decided to seek asylum in Canada and that they believe it's "the Promised Land."
He said misinformation is spreading because Haitians living in Canada are in communication with those in the U.S. and are telling them they will be welcomed north of the border.
"Every day Haitians come to my office and tell me, 'We're going to Canada,'" Eugène said during the news conference.
"They say, 'Listen, the doors to Canada are open.'"
'Situation in Haiti is still horrible'
In January, TPS for Haitians in the U.S. is set to expire, and it has left many scrambling for other options.
"The situation in Haiti is still horrible. We're talking about people who had kids in the U.S. and now they are supposed to return to Haiti," Eugène said.
He stressed his primary goal is to get the U.S. government to extend TPS for Haitians by 18 months.
Chantal Ismé, the vice-president of the board of directors of La Maison d'Haïti, said the Haitian community in Montreal, which consists of about 120,000 people, will do everything it can to accommodate "their brothers and sisters."
But she said there are many considerations these asylum seekers are overlooking when they come to Canada — like healthcare and getting children into school.
"These people didn't know what they were getting into because they were poorly informed or misinformed," Ismé said.
Influx of Haitian asylum seekers
Hundreds of asylum seekers are still crossing into Canada daily from the United States at the Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Que., border.
The Canadian Armed Forces has set up a camp, made up of military-grade tents with floors, lighting and heating at the border in order to accommodate people who are still waiting to be processed.
There's no guarantee that Haitian asylum seekers will be able to stay in Canada. To be successful, a claimant must demonstrate he or she has a legitimate fear of persecution, war or other violence in their country of origin.