Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 27/10/2017 (983 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The rising tide of asylum seekers crossing into Manitoba on foot seems to have settled into a steady stream, while the numbers in Quebec dropped dramatically last month.
Welcome to the rhythms of a world of displaced people, a Winnipeg immigration expert says.
"You can’t plan for refugee claimants," said Lori Wilkinson, director of Immigration Research West at the University of Manitoba, and editor-in-chief of the Journal of International Migration and Integration.
RCMP intercepted 78 refugee claimants who’d irregularly crossed the border from the United States into Manitoba in September, compared with 80 in August, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s latest numbers show.
In Quebec, the number of asylum claims dropped dramatically — to 1,720 in September from 5,530 in August.
"They fluctuate so much every year," said Wilkinson, who will be one of the speakers at the Strangers in New Homelands conference in Winnipeg from Nov. 1-3. The conference, in its 10th year, looks at immigration policies in host societies around the world. The issue of refugee claimants is one of the big topics this year, she said.
This summer, the number of refugee claimants who crossed into Quebec grew, with Haitian earthquake refugees trying to get to a safe place before their temporary protected status in the U.S. expired. In the fall, their numbers plummeted.
"I would say the people who are really scared about their situation would have left already," Wilkinson said.
The number of asylum seekers crossing into Canada could soar again if people in the U.S. with uncertain status — such as the 700,000 who arrived in the country as minors and were allowed to stay through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program — fear they’ll get the boot.
"It will depend a lot on the (U.S. President Donald) Trump administration," Wilkinson said.
The number of asylum seekers trying to call Manitoba home may have levelled off for now. But it’s still up 400 per cent from this time last year, says a Winnipeg non-profit group that helps refugee claimants navigate the maze of immigration bureaucracy.
"We’re managing, but still unfunded by the federal government," said Ghezae Hagos, who is in charge of in-Canada refugee claims at the Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council’s Welcome Place.
In September 2016, it helped 24 refugee claimants. Last month, it assisted 104. By mid-October 2016, it had helped 198 refugee claimants; by mid-October this year, it was 1,000, Hagos said.
Every weekday, four University of Manitoba law students spend a half-day at Welcome Place, working with refugee claimants, mostly helping them draft their "narratives" — their story, and why they have a well-founded fear of persecution should they be sent back to their country of origin.
Welcome Place — the largest resettlement agency for government-assisted refugees — is providing settlement services for refugee claimants, for which there is no federal government funding, Hagos said.
"They’re asking us for winter clothes, shoes and furniture," he said, asking donors to take gently-used items to the Canadian Muslim Women’s Institute (61 Juno St.). The province, as well as donors, has stepped up to help. But the need for shelter is great, he said.
"Some are really struggling."
Carol Sanders’ reporting on newcomers to Canada has made international headlines, earned national recognition but most importantly it’s shared the local stories of the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home.
Your support has enabled us to provide free access to stories about COVID-19 because we believe everyone deserves trusted and critical information during the pandemic.
Our readership has contributed additional funding to give Free Press online subscriptions to those that can’t afford one in these extraordinary times — giving new readers the opportunity to see beyond the headlines and connect with other stories about their community.
To those who have made donations, thank you.
To those able to give and share our journalism with others, please Pay it Forward.
The Free Press has shared COVID-19 stories free of charge because we believe everyone deserves access to trusted and critical information during the pandemic.
While we stand by this decision, it has undoubtedly affected our bottom line.
After nearly 150 years of reporting on our city, we don’t want to stop any time soon. With your support, we’ll be able to forge ahead with our journalistic mission.
If you believe in an independent, transparent, and democratic press, please consider subscribing today.
We understand that some readers cannot afford a subscription during these difficult times and invite them to apply for a free digital subscription through our Pay it Forward program.