Canadian immigration authorities, facing an influx of asylum seekers from Nigeria, are asking United States immigration officials to enhance their enforcement of existing U.S. immigration laws.
The Washington Post outlined the growing immigration problem Canada is facing — which the Canadian government partially blames on the U.S. — and what they want done about it.
What are the details?
According to the Post, since the political environment for refugees is becoming more hostile under President Donald Trump, those seeking refuge in the West are abusing the U.S. visa system. For example, Nigerians seeking refuge in Canada have been requesting temporary U.S. tourist visas only to walk across the Canadian border before their visas expire.
It began last summer, Canadian authorities said, when they saw an influx of Haitians walking into Canada via a border crossing in northern New York. However, more recently, it has been Nigerians, who possess temporary U.S. tourist visas, walking into Canada where they plan to seek refuge.
“They’re not using the visa for the reason it was intended for,” a spokesperson for Canada’s interior minister told the Post.
To help rectify the issue, Canadian authorities are asking their American counterparts to more strictly screen tourists from Nigeria to ensure they plan to return to their home country — instead of wandering to the Great White North for permanent settlement — when their visas expire.
Why are so many settling in Canada?
One asylum seeker from Nigeria told the Post that refugees settle in Canada rather than the U.S. because of the negative environment Trump has created for refugees and immigrants.
“Instead of Trump throwing us back to Nigeria, we appreciate Canada right now for accepting people,” the man said. “I don’t want to go back to Nigeria. Nobody’s safe.”
It’s also more difficult for Canadian asylum seekers to be deported. Canadian law mandates those requesting asylum be given a fair hearing to determine whether or not their claims for protective status is legitimate. That process, as it does in the U.S., can sometimes take years.
How did the U.S. respond?
A spokesperson for the State Department told the Post that the U.S. maintains a “strong working relationships” with their Canadian counterparts, but they don’t plan to alter the U.S. tourist visa process anytime soon.
“National security is our top priority when adjudicating visa applications. At this time, we have no changes to our visa application process to announce,” the spokesperson said.