“Stop. It is illegal to cross the border here or any place other than a Port of Entry. You will be arrested and detained if you cross here.”
“Not everyone is eligible to make an asylum claim,” reads a second sign. “Claiming asylum is not a free ticket into Canada.”
As the Trump administration signals that it may soon remove the Temporary Protected Status designation from more than 300,000 Central Americans and Haitians, threatening them with deportation, Canadian officials are bracing for a new wave of asylum seekers flooding over the border.
Last week, acting U.S. homeland security secretary Elaine Duke announced that she was lifting protected status for 2,500 Nicaraguans, effective January 2019. And while she extended the same protection for 57,000 Hondurans until July 2018, she warned that the protection may end at that time.
The U.S. government decided to protect both groups from deportation following the devastation wrought by Hurricane Mitch in 1999, and the measures were repeatedly renewed until this year. Duke said the original conditions justifying that protection “no longer exist.” Canada and its immigrant-friendly policies may be seen as a viable alternative for those reluctant to return to their countries of origin.
In addition to the new signs on the border, the Canadian government said it is increasing its outreach in communities in the United States that are likely to be affected. It also plans to send Spanish- and Creole-speaking members of Parliament to Los Angeles and Miami to meet community leaders and explain Canadian asylum rules. Canada’s 12 consulates in the United States have also been recruited to spread the message that asylum is not automatic.