Hurricane could prompt Canada to suspend deportations of failed asylum seekers

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Quebec opened Montreal’s Olympic Stadium as a temporary shelter after thousands of people, many of them Haitian nationals, began streaming over the U.S. border into Quebec over the summer. (Charles Contant/CBC)

Canada could indefinitely suspend deportations to Haiti and other countries devastated by Hurricane Irma, according to federal provisions that halt removals to nations deemed too dangerous because of conflict or disaster.

Scott Bardsley, spokesman for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, said the Canada Border Services Agency will not deport anyone who has had their refugee claim rejected, or is deemed inadmissible to Canada, to a country coping with a hurricane.

After the storm has passed, an evaluation will be carried out on the ground to determine its impact.

If the country is deemed safe, removals could continue. But widespread devastation could lead to a suspension of deportations, as happened after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

Those postponements could last for months or even years.

“What happens really depends on the circumstance,” Bardsley said.

Canada has seen a wave of asylum seekers, including Haitian citizens, crossing over from the U.S. in recent months.

Hundreds have been streaming across the border at Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Que. Many of them have been living in the U.S. under temporary protection status granted after the 2010 earthquake.

That is set to expire in January, because the U.S. Department of Homeland Security now considers Haiti a safe country.

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