Tag Archives: Haitian Immigration

Haitians are using Canada to illegally enter the United States: US Authorities

Is Canada a way to enter the United States illegally?

This week reports from American authorities surfaced that many Haitians have been entering the United States from Canada since January’s devastating earthquake. More specifically, over 120 Haitians have been caught illegally crossing at the Vermont-Quebec border, usually in the middle of the night and on foot.

The record number of Haitians caught crossing the border include men, women and children and many of them have received the assistance of traffickers.

The United States Border Patrol has also stated that most of the Haitians were traveling to cities like New York and Miami, where there are large Haitian communities and where they likely have family. Some have also lived in Canada for years, after being ordered deported from the United States back to Haiti and instead fleeing to Canada.

President Obama made a decision to grant temporary protected status to Haitians living illegally in the United States after the earthquake – so they would not be deported back to the country that was in shambles. It’s something that many speculate the smugglers would have told the Haitians trying to cross the border, but not that the temporary protected status only applies to those who were already in the United States during the earthquake, not anyone who tries to illegally enter the country afterwards.

Some have also speculated the reason the Haitians are so desperate to cross and risk the stiff penalties is that without some kind of status they cannot sponsor their families to come over. Others had lost most of their families and might have had a few relatives remaining in the United States.

[gravityform id=1 name=Havea Question? ]

Published on: April 7th, 2010Published by: Michael Niren

More Haitians adopted by Canadians than granted Canadian Permanent Residence

Canadian Permanent Residence for Haitians slow-going

Unfortunately, when tragedy strikes it seems that after only a few weeks of scrutinizing media coverage it drops off the radar very abruptly. But as the media seems to pick up and move on just two months after the earthquake, Canada is still doing their part to help the citizens of Haiti. However, the process is very slow going so far.

The Government of Canada has received thousands of Haitians applying to come and live in Canada, but only 160 have received permanent resident visas by this week.

According to Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney:

160 Haitians have received permanent resident visas, the Government of Canada has issued 1,500 temporary resident visas (mostly to people who are with Canadians leaving Haiti) and 203 adoptions of Haitians have also been granted.

These comments came on Tuesday, when Minister Kenney was testifying before a parliamentary committee on the progress so far. He said that he expects the process to become much faster as time goes on.

“Every week we are processing more and I think the special program will pick up momentum,” he said.

The immense devastation caused by the January earthquake is mostly at fault for the lack of speed in the permanent residency processes. According to Minister Kenney, the earthquake left Haiti in such despair that that it has left their immigration department damaged, caused delays in medical exams and the police and judicial system have all been compromised, making any security checks extremely difficult.

While the process for Haitians applying for permanent and temporary residence has been fast-tracked, it is important to know that despite the recent crackdown on unscrupulous immigration consultants there are still many out there who are willing to take advantage of such a serious situation and attempt to help Haitians with their applications or even encourage them to lie.

Now that the dust has settled on this story it seems (in the eyes of the media), there are still real lives at stake here. It is incumbent on Citizenship and Immigration Canada to keep its commitment to help Haitians in their time of need: Media or no media.

Have a question about Canadian Permanent Residence? Contact Niren and Associates immigration law firm today.

[gravityform id=1 name=Havea Question? ]

Published on: March 20th, 2010Published by: Michael Niren

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Program Introduced to Help Haitians in the US

Temporary Protected Status Program

The United States Department of Homeland Security has introduced a Temporary Protected Status, or TPS program to help Haitians living in the United States. No other significant weather event has impacted Haiti more than the tragic January earthquake, which was the reason for the introduction of the program. The government has also put a stop to the deporting of immigrants from Haiti who were previously been detained.

Conditions to Qualify for Temporary Protected Status Program

Haitian immigrants, who must have been on United States soil during the time of the earthquake, will be allowed a year-and-a-half (18 months) of Temporary Protected Status as well as authorization to work in the United States.

The United States government has taken similar action during prior catastrophic natural disasters, specifically for immigrants from countries such as El Salvador, Honduras, Somalia, Nicaragua and Sudan.

Restrictions for the Temporary Protected Status Program

The Department of Homeland Security has mentioned that TPS will not be extended to those found to be convicted of specific crimes, and more importantly in cases of US deportation the TPS will not apply.  In cases of criminality and deportation, it is important to consult with an immigration lawyer whether or not your would otherwise fall under the TPS category.

The USCIS should be commended for its TPS Program as a humanitarian gesture towards Haitian victims and their families.

Published on: February 12th, 2010Published by: Michael Niren

Refugee Claims in Canada backlog Impacting Haitians

Immigration backlogs create lengthy problems for Refugee Claims in Canada

Many of those affected by the earthquake in Haiti have relatives who have immigrated to Canada in recent years. While the process has been expedited for Haitians immigrating to Canada who also have family members here to sponsor them, some of those family members are unable to sponsor relatives in desperate need of assistance because they have not yet received a response to their own refugee claims.

Prior to the earthquake, there were 7,500 refugee claims from Haiti, and since the earthquake, that number has now grown to a staggering 61,000, according to the Immigration and Refugee Board.

This week CBC told the story of one woman, Myrlene Coulanges, who is currently working and living in Ottawa. Coulanges applied for refugee status from Haiti two years ago and has yet to hear back about it. Because of this delay, she is unable to sponsor family members who were deeply affected by the quake, including her young son who is still in Haiti and now homeless.

The Haitian community as well as others have been continually urging the government of Canada to expand its definition of “family”, despite Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney’s previous statements that the government would not be able to budge on the matter. The government has frequently made reference to the 2004 Tsunami disaster with regards to the definition, saying that any refugees from that disaster were not offered an extended definition and it would not be fair. It’s also interesting to note that in the six-month period after the tsunami, even though similar expediting processes were implemented, only 400 applications were processed by the department.

This week, Queen’s University immigration expert Sharry Aiken told CBC that, “The way Canada defines family in our immigration law is woefully inadequate to respond to the real family relationships many people have, particularly in other parts of the world.”

As we’ve previously reported, the Canadian government’s definition of “family” covers spouses, grandparents and children, but does not expand to encompass aunts, uncles or cousins.

The Haitian earthquake was a disaster of immense proportions, and using previous large-scale disasters to provide reasons as to why special considerations cannot be made can also be considered unfair to those facing extreme hardship in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake. Canada’s response to the disaster in Haiti has been admirable. But so far, Canada Immigration can do better.

Published on: February 8th, 2010Published by: Michael Niren

Quebec Immigration Minister goes extra mile to welcome more Haitian Immigrants

Immigration to Quebec made easier for Haitians

Last week, the Province of Quebec stated that it was preparing to open its door to welcome more Haitian immigrants affected by the recent earthquake despite federal government protocols

90 per cent of the 135,000 members of the Canadian Haitian population currently reside in the province of Quebec. Quebec Minister of Immigration and Cultural Communities Yolande James has said she is prepared to use the “power of selection”, a clause in the federal and provincial immigration agreement, for allowing an implementation of the expanded definition of family to increase the amount of eligible Haitian immigration sponsorships by Canadians. This particular clause is very rarely used.

But the Federal Government is still refusing to expand the Family Class for Immigrants

Canada’s Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney has firmly maintained that the Canadian government will not change the definition of family with regards to whom Canadians can sponsor for citizenship from Haiti. The definition of the Family Class for Immigrants is limited to spouses, parents, grandparents and dependent children and does not include other family members such as aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews.

Kenney’s main argument for the lack of flexibility with this rule is that it would be unfair to others who have experienced massive events of destruction in their home countries whom Canada has provided assistance for, using the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami as a prime example. It is estimated that over 200,000 people were killed or washed away during the tsunami, which was the result of the second largest earthquake ever recorded. The devastation caused by the tsunami was significant, destroying many coastal regions in several countries

However, in the case of the Haitian earthquake, an entire country, its infrastructure, its population and its means of survival may have been irreparably destroyed. The total death toll, numbers of Haitians left homeless or critically injured may never be known. Further, in my view, two wrongs don’t make a right. The Feds should have expanded the Family Class for Tsunami crises. Now they have an opportunity to correct their mistakes but it does not look like they will.

Published on: January 31st, 2010Published by: Michael Niren

Humanitarian Aid for Haiti Needed. But will it get to those who really need it? Ways to help Haiti.

Ways to help Haiti

The devastation is Haiti is unprecedented and humanitarian aid is desperately needed. The problem of course is making sure that the aid gets to those who really need it. Haiti has always been a politically corrupt nation and now, in the aftermath of the earth quake, a lawless one.  Over the years we have represented Haitians with their immigration and visa applications and have been shocked by their stories of hardship there. Like other corrupt, developing countries, foreign aid, while a noble endeavor often falls in the wrong hands. Warlords, politicians and their friends get the loot while the starving public waits in vain.

But if you feel, like I do, that doing your part in the hope that it makes even a little difference is worth it, the following are some agencies to consider in offering your support.

Canadian Red Cross

1-800-418-1111 or at any Red Cross office

The Salvation Army
1-800-SAL-ARMY (725-2769)

The Humanitarian Coalition (CARE Canada, Oxfam Canada, Oxfam-Quebec, Save the Children)

Médecins Sans Frontières
1-800-982-7903 or 416-964-0619

CBC Haiti Relief site

Published on: January 20th, 2010Published by: Michael Niren

Vancouver 2010 Olympics a Celebration of Canadian Immigrants

A number of Canadian Immigrants representing Canada at the Olympics

Canada’s large multicultural population will soon be on display around the world, in the form of the diversity and abundant talent that is often showcased at the Olympic Games. Many Canadian immigrants have represented Canada in this prestigious event over the past century, some of them even immigrating for that very purpose such as American-born figure skater Kaitlyn Weaver, who just recently became a Canadian citizen to compete in the Olympics. The 2010 Winter games will be taking place in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada and start in early February next year.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

There are many notable new Canadians who have done their new country proud in the Olympics. Many phenomenal superstars running for Canada have come from far away countries to represent Canada in past Summer Games. Canadian Olympic gold medalist in the summer of 1996, runner Donovan Bailey, was born in Jamaica. Once the world’s fastest man, Bailey emigrated to Canada from Jamaica at the age of 13, with more of an interest in basketball than running. Bailey’s teammates in the 1996 summer Olympics included Robert Esmie, another Jamaican immigrant to Canada as well as Haitian immigrant Bruny Surin and the team had many great achievements during those Games, resulting in several of Canada’s greatest Olympic moments. However, one of the first immigrants to represent Canada in a running sport was Irish immigrant Bobby Kerr, who was eliminated from the 1904 Games in St. Louis, only to return and win a gold and a bronze in the 1908 London games.

Canada has also been represented by immigrants in other sports, such as skiing, soccer,  tennis, boxing and even walking, which was an Olympic sport in 1912 when English immigrant George Goulding won the gold medal for Canada. Famed Nigerian wrestler Daniel Igali visited Canada for the 1994 Commonwealth games and applied for refugee status because of the conditions in Nigeria and at the 2000 Summer games in Sydney, Australia he took home a gold medal and was later inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame.

Canadian immigrants in hockey

One of Canada’s favorite sports is hockey, and many immigrants have made this sport their own. In 1924, Scottish immigrant Duncan Munro scored 18 goals to bring the Canadian hockey team a gold medal. Decades later, Irish immigrants Geraldine Heaney and Owen Nolan each won gold as members of the Canadian Women’s Hockey Team and the Canadian Mens Hockey Team in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 2002.

We at  Niren and Associates Immigration Lawyers are proud to have represented thousands of Canadian immigrants over the years, many of whom have made incredible contributions to Canada.

Published on: December 22nd, 2009Published by: Michael Niren