In Search of A Home: Haitians Seek Refuge In Canada

Asylum seekers at the Montreal Stadium.


PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Wednesday August 9, 2017 – Haitian national Iancien Milien is among thousands of his countrymen forced to call the Montreal Stadium Home these days.

He arrived there after walking into Canada at the Lacolle Border crossing after leaving the United States where he lived for 17 years.  He does not want to return to his homeland.

Countryman, Jean Dorméus is equally determined to build a new life anywhere but Haiti.

Twenty-three-year-old Dormeus, the secretary-general of a political youth group in the northern city of Cap-Haïtien,  has been living in Pennsylvania for the last six months, after he left Haiti because of death threats.

He told the Montreal Grazette that his chances for asylum were slim and he fears deportation from the United States.

“It’s not good for us there now,” he said. “It’s not safe in the US, and I can’t go back to Haiti.”

Milien, Dormeus and hundreds more have abandoned their life in America amid fears that they could be deported as the Donald Trump administration ended their temporary protected status.

Back in May, the US Department of Homeland Security announced it would extend immigration protections for almost 60,000 Haitians living in the US for six more months, but urged them to start preparing to return home.

They have turned to Canada for help.

Canadian immigration authorities say they are being overwhelmed by the refugees.

PRAIDA, a government funded immigrant support program in Quebec, told the Montreal Grazette that it has received 1200 new requests from refugees in July, almost four times the normal total.

“It’s unheard of,” PRAIDA leader Francine Dupuis said. “In 30 years, I’ve never seen this kind of volume or intensity.”

Haitian Foreign Minister Antonio Rodrigue and Minister for Haitians living abroad, Stephanie Auguste, were set to meet with Quebec’s immigration minister Kathleen Weil today to discuss the situation.

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