Bill Bostock and Michelle Mark, TORONTO, (REUTERS): A record number of US citizens applied for asylum in Canada during 2017, the most since 1994.
A total of 2,550 US citizens applied for asylum Canada in 2017 — six times more than in 2016, according to data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada cited by The Guardian.
That’s the largest number of applications Canada has ever received from American citizens since the dataset started reporting the numbers in 1994, they said.
But these Americans are not fleeing war, violence, or persecution like typical asylum seekers are. Rather, experts say the bulk of these American asylum seekers are actually the US-born children of unauthorized immigrants living in the US.
Since everyone born on US soil is automatically an American citizen — a process known as birthright citizenship — the Trump administration’s crackdown on illegal immigration has triggered a dilemma for so-called mixed status families, where some members are Americans and some are unauthorized immigrants.
Those unauthorized immigrants fear being deported by the Trump administration, and so they are seeking asylum in Canada and bringing their US citizen children with them, one Montreal-based immigration lawyer told The Guardian.
“Most of the Americans applying for refugee status are the children of non-residents,” Stéphane Handfield told The Guardian. “They are US citizens because they were born there, but they come across the border with their parents because they don’t want to be separated.”
US citizens made up the third-largest group of asylum seekers in the 2017 dataset, after Haitians and Nigerians, the Guardian reported.
In October 2018, Trump said he wanted to end “birthright citizenship,” which he called a “ridiculous” practice of granting citizenship to children born in the US to noncitizen parents. He hasn’t made an official policy move on that plan yet.
In early 2017, Canada started receiving a larger-than-expected number of asylum applications after US President Donald Trump said he was going to scrap a scheme offering temporary protected status to immigrants from countries like Haiti, CTV wrote.
(A group of asylum seekers wait to be processed after being escorted from their tent encampment to the Canada Border Services in Lacolle, Quebec, Canada, on August 11, 2017. Reuters)