The journey of an asylum seeker

News 27 August, 2017
  • Photo Martin Alarie

    Matthew Payen

    Sunday, 27 August, 2017 08:00

    Sunday, 27 August, 2017 08:00

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    For a little over a month, migrants flee in large numbers, the discourse of anti-immigration, the american president Donald Trump, who is threatening to suspend 2018 temporary visas. This is nearly 320 000 people, including Haitians and nationals of central American countries like Honduras and el Salvador. For many, the solution is to go to Canada. This option, however, is not of any rest, as shown in the itinerary that they must follow, and gives no guarantee of success.

    Legal entry

    If he tries to enter through the Lacolle border crossing, a migrant from the United States will immediately be turned back at the border because he has not made his application for asylum in the “safe country” where he comes from, under the Agreement on safe third country.

    1. The irregular entry

    As more than 8,000 migrants have done since the beginning of the summer, the person enters Canada in an irregular way by the rank Roxham, Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle. At the time of crossing the border, the customs officers and the police officers of the royal Canadian mounted police (RCMP) inform the commission that it is in the illegality.

    Once entered, it is searched; luggage, phones and computers. And then, come a few issues summary to verify the identity of the person, as well as the amount of money that it holds.

    She is then seated under a tent for about thirty minutes. In high traffic, close to 150 migrants are waiting for their transfer to the camps. The chemical toilets are available.

    2. The camps

    Camps have been erected in recent weeks by the canadian armed Forces near the border post at Lacolle. The military up tents on a wooden floor with heating and light. The border services have installed 1200 beds, toilets, showers, and serve as food and water. These days, a migrant remains three to four days before you talk to a customs officer. It made an impression, takes a photo and makes security checks.

    Then, he gives him an appointment in the montreal offices of Citizenship and Immigration Canada 1010 St. Antoine street to begin its process of applying for asylum.

    Photo Ben Pelosse

    3. Accommodation Centre

    Transferred by bus to Montréal, the migrant is installed in a temporary accommodation centre. There are currently 10 in Montreal, including the olympic Stadium and the former Royal Victoria hospital, one in Boucherville and Laval, and two in Cornwall, Ontario. The person has a bed, a toilet, a shower, three meals per day, products of first necessity and a transportation card.

    The length of stay is a little over a month, because once that person has received a full month of social assistance, she needs to find a home.

    4. Administration

    In the days following his arrival in Montreal, his first priority is to go to the appointment of 1010, rue Saint-Antoine which was given to him at the border. He files his application for asylum, and the Canada Immigration officer will arrange a date for interview to determine if the request is admissible. For a person who crosses the border at this time, the first interview dates available are in December. In the meantime, the migrant cannot obtain a work permit.

    The claimant can then go to any near service Center specializing in order to make a request for help of last resort, commonly referred to as social assistance. The provincial ministry of Labour processes the application and, if accepted, will hand over the first cheque in about 10 days. The amount of the cheque received to the hosting center is the same as for any other beneficiary in Québec, or 628 $ per month for a single person and 1189 $ for a family of two adults and two children.

    The migrant has the choice of conducting these steps alone or hire a lawyer whose advice may be free if eligible for legal aid. Finally, it is also possible to turn to immigration consultants, whose services are not covered by legal aid.

    5. Housing

    Pocketing his welfare cheque, the person must find a home. The search can be done with the assistance of partner organizations of the provincial ministry of Immigration or by its own means. Given the precariousness of their status, it is complicated for them to have a remedy against an owner wormy. Go through an agency reduces the risk of scam.

    Living on social assistance, it is difficult to equip, especially when children are involved. Several agencies can provide furniture, hygiene products, food, or even transport tickets.

    6. School

    The Commission scolaire de Montréal offers a free school place for all children of migrants, even those who do not have status. A draft law in this sense will be discussed in September at the national Assembly.

    Parents must provide the address of their accommodation, which may not be an accommodation centre. Respondent, the Commission scolaire de Montréal said, however, do not know the number of children that will need to be integrated in the classes tomorrow.

    7. Asylum application

    The migrant must wait until the fall or winter to have an interview with an immigration officer to determine whether his claim may be accepted. However, when the attendance was lower, this review was directly at the border.

    • If the request is not received, the person must return from where it comes, therefore, the United States or its country of origin if it has no legal status in the United States. It may, however, call the program pre-removal risk assessment, but its success rate is less than 2 %, said the immigration lawyer Stéphane Handfield.
    • If the application is found acceptable, a hearing date is set within 60 days, but may be deferred for a few weeks or a few months. According to Me Handfield, the hearing of the asylum-seeker will not take place until the spring of 2018.

    8. Work

    When his asylum application is deemed admissible, the person may make an application for a work permit with Citizenship and Immigration Canada. The processing time of the application differs if it is made by internet or by mail. In the latter case, which is the most common for asylum-seekers, it takes about 110 days or almost four months.

    9. Decision

    About a year after his arrival in Canada, the person is heard by the immigration and refugee board of Canada, who must determine if he is a refugee within the meaning of the act. According to Immigration Canada, the Commission shall give a reply within the four months following the hearing.

    • If the asylum application is accepted, the person can remain on canadian soil and start the process to become a permanent resident.
    • If the application is rejected, the person must return to his country of origin or to appeal to the refugee appeal division. In case of failure, it may ask for a judicial review to the federal Court of Canada. In total, these procedures can add 12 to 24 months of proceedings.

    10. Return to the country

    The current rate of successful asylum applications is approximately 50 %, but it could change with the recent wave of migrants, Haitians for the most part, came from the United States.

    For the lawyer, Guy Bertrand, these asylum seekers ” will not be able to demonstrate that if they were to return to Haiti they could be exposed to torture, a threat to their life or to a risk of treatment or punishment cruel and unusual “.

    Me Handfield feared that the return decisions in the country be complex for the Commission of immigration. In fact, the children of migrants born in the United States might have to return to this country, but their parents should take the path of Haiti.