OTTAWA - Would-be Canadians need more than just a desire for a better economic future if they expect to be granted refugee status in this country, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday.
Trudeau, speaking at an event in Charlottetown, pointed to the case of 6,300 Haitians who have crossed illegally into Canada from the U.S. in recent months to request asylum. Statistics released this week show that of the 298 Haitian cases that had been heard by the end of October, only 29 were granted protection.
"Refugee status means that you have nowhere to go, you can not be protected by your home state," the prime minister said. "It's not just a question of, 'I'm looking for an economic future, so I want to come to Canada.'"
The Immigration and Refugee Board is working its way through more than 14,000 cases lodged by people who've crossed illegally into Canada from the U.S. since February. So far, they've heard 1,572 and the overall acceptance rate is about 60 per cent. Haitians make up the majority of claims.
But though that country has economic challenges, it's far from a failed state, Trudeau noted.
"There are people in different parts of the world who need help more, who have a more urgent need," he said. "We must ensure that our immigration system remains intact and that Canadians continue to have confidence in our immigration system."In other words, Haitians, while Haiti is obviously a basket case, it's not, say, a Syria or a Yemen, if you catch my (well, actually, his) drift.
Update: If Haitians aren't the flavor of the month, refugee-wise, who are? Some months ago, it was Somalis, Eritreans and Ghanians.