Canada may now need to prepare for another surge of asylum seekers as the Trump administration announced on Monday that it is putting an end to temporary protected status (TPS) for Salvadorans in the US.
Up to 250,000 Salvadorans could now face deportation, according to CNN.
Hundreds of Haitians crossed the US-Canada border every day during the peak of the summer months, after US President Donald Trump began hinting that their TPS might be revoked, according to the Canadian Press.
And, sure enough, the Trump administration ended their temporary residency permit in November, leaving 60,000 Haitians unsure of their futures. Many Haitian refugees had accepted asylum in the US following a devastating earthquake in 2010.
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Congress developed TPS in 1990 to create a consistent system that would help people who were unable to return to countries that were devastated by war, epidemics or natural disasters, according to the Migration Policy Institute.
If eligible for TPS, the length of which a person can stay in the country is contingent on the emergency in their native country. The initial period is no less than six months, and no more than 18 months. The Department of Homeland Security can then extend the status. Some TPS immigrants have therefore been in the country for many years, according to Nolo.
The mass arrival of Haitians in Canada forced the federal government to act fast and respond to what the RCMP called an “unprecedented” surge of individuals crossing the border seeking asylum. Montreal’s Olympic Stadium was transformed into temporary housing and the Canadian military set up a tent village.
After that, winterized trailers were purchased and there is now a contingency plan in place that has not yet been made public.
Now that another mass deportation has been announced south of the border, that plan may need to be revealed. Salvadorans were granted asylum to the US after a series of earthquakes in 2001 in their home country. Trump’s announcement will force them to either return to El Salvador, apply for citizenship in the US, or find somewhere new to live.
Last week, El Salvador Foreign Minister Hugo Martinez said that putting an end to TPS "would mean breaking up families that are in the United States," according to BBC News.
The TPS program gives citizens of countries that have experienced disasters reprieve in the US. It is an important way in which the country helps vulnerable populations find stable ground.
Trump has already put an end to the protective status of Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Sudanese. These decisions come at a time when the US government is pushing to limit the number immigrants and refugees coming into the country.
Aside from Canada’s contingency plan, the Canadian government is doing its best to make sure people arriving at the border don’t have any surprises.
Some asylum seekers arrived in Canada last year mistakenly thinking that Canada had special immigration programs set up for people affected by the termination of the temporary status program in the US, according to the Canadian Press.
The federal government has sent MPs and the immigration minister to the US to talk to targeted populations, and consulates in the US are also doing outreach to explain Canada’s refugee system regulations.
Still, the federal government should be prepared for the arrival of asylum seekers should they begin to pour across the borders as they did in 2017.
Within the first nine months of 2017, Canada had almost 36,000 refugee claims, according to Reuters. In August alone, 5,712 people crossed into Quebec, most of whom were Haitian.
At a press conference in August, Prime Minister Trudeau tried to make it clear that crossing the border wouldn’t immediately grant someone status.
“You will not be at an advantage if you choose to enter Canada irregularly. You must follow the rules, and there are many,” he said.
Some argued that his #WelcomeToCanada tweets were to blame for the mass arrival of asylum seekers, saying they provided false hope.
As of the end of November, 16,522 asylum claims had been filed from people who crossed the border illegally, 2,198 of which had been completed, according to the Immigration and Refugee Board.
Of the completed cases, 54% were accepted, according to the Toronto Star.
So while not all are being accepted, there is still a significant number who are being considered as refugees, providing hope for others arriving in Canada.
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