Windsor

Flood of Haitian refugees making it difficult to find visas for orphaned students

Jim Scott established a not-for-profit called Enable Haiti and wants to bring older children to North America to continue their education, but the immigration lawyer he hired in the U.S. told him to forget it — Haitians are illegally crossing the border in droves so the lawyer doesn't believe either country will let them in.

Jim Scott is willing to pay students' expenses and ensure they return home

Asylum seekers are seen on board a bus after crossing the border into Canada from the United States at a police checkpoint close to the Canada-U.S. border near Hemmingford, Que., on Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

A Windsor businessman believes the flood of Haitian immigrants pouring into Canada from the United States is causing roadblocks when it comes to getting visas for orphaned students.

Jim Scott established a not-for-profit called Enable Haiti and wants to bring older children to North America to continue their education, but the immigration lawyer he hired in the U.S. told him to forget it — Haitians are illegally crossing the border in droves so the lawyer doesn't believe either country will let them in.

Asylum Assembly Line: A Quebec border crossing is bustling with asylum seekers worried about being kicked out of the U.S.

4 years ago
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A Quebec border crossing has turned into an assembly line for asylum seekers leaving the U.S. for Canada 3:23

"Our kids in the orphanages are getting older, and we always thought we would tell them, 'OK. You're 18. It's time to leave.' But they have nowhere to leave to," said Scott. "If they had some education beyond Grade 12 and if they had an ability to earn a living, they could leave the orphanage and start their own adult lives and right now, we we don't have the ability to do that."

A spokesperson from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said all applications from around the world are assessed equally, regardless of their country of origin.

"We are confident in our programs and will continue to ensure that our immigration system balances compassion, efficiency and economic opportunity, while protecting the health, safety and security of Canadians," according to the written statement. 

Protection for U.S. Haitians about to expire

About 50,000 Haitians have been living under temporary protection status in the U.S. since the 2010 earthquake. That protection is set to expire in January, meaning heading north into Canada is one of the few options they have available.

More than 6,000 people, most of them Haitians, have crossed illegally into Quebec from New York since July. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dispatched Haitian-Canadian Liberal MP Emmanuel Dubourg to Miami this week to ensure the Haitian community there had the proper information about the rules of legal entry into Canada. 

Scott said post-secondary education in Haiti is only for the rich. He already sponsors one student in Quebec.

"We're hoping that  some of this climate improves and we can bring them in for even a college education you know ... a two-year college education and they go back to Haiti and we're looking at starting some businesses there," he added.

Scott said he's willing to pay for the students' expenses and to ensure they return to their home country, but his lawyer tells him it would be a waste of time and money.

Windsor-based immigration lawyer Jason Currie, said he's not sure what recourse Scott has at this point.

Windsor-based immigration lawyer Jason Currie, said officials believe it's likely students from poor countries like Haiti will overstay their visas. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

"We're not in a position to see how that's going to play itself out just yet ... government just doesn't work that fast," he explained. "We haven't seen if there's been an uptick, a decline or an impact on getting visas."

Currie said it is difficult for students from poor countries like Haiti to get permission to study in Canada because they are considered very likely to overstay their visas.

with files from CBC Montreal

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