Immigrants and refugees, the most affected by measures to Coronavirus in Canada

Oscar Vigil

Toronto. Immigrants in general, and particularly asylum seekers, It will be the most affected with the new immigration measures taken by the Canadian government in its efforts to contain the spread in the country of the Covid-19, better known as Coronavirus.

The government announced this week total closure of Canadian borders to all foreigners, few exceptions, a closure that leaves out tens of thousands of immigrants around the world whose migration to this country are already in their final stages. Likewise leaves out thousands of asylum seekers who mostly come to the United States before crossing the border by land to Canada.

“We will not allow entry to Canada to people who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents”, said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a press conference on Monday, adding the measure would exceptions, such as aircrew, diplomats, immediate family members of Canadian citizens and, until that moment, US citizens. But nevertheless, a day later also it extended the restriction to enter the country to Americans who wanted to cross the border without being essential travel, as if they are those who transport food and those working regularly in Canada, among others.

With regard to asylum seekers, Trudeau had previously said: “Canada and the United States are announcing a reciprocal agreement that now will return irregular migrants attempting to cross any part of the Canada-United States border”.

“Those who have already crossed the border will be isolated, but in the future, those who try to cross the border illegally will be returned back to the United States”, Trudeau said.

The Prime Minister explained that such measures are temporary but necessary to stop the pandemic that Thursday Coronavirus 25 March has infected 3,579 people and killed 36 across Canada.

“This is a temporary measure that will implement during the crisis of the coronavirus .... They are exceptional measures to protect citizens”, He emphasized the Prime Minister.

For a country like Canada 36 million population whose future depends largely on immigration, the crisis caused by the pandemic of the Covid-19 will certainly have a strong impact. Given the low birth rate and aging population, Canada receives annually about 350,000 immigrants from all countries of the world, and them about 50,000 are refugees.

On the other hand, the government also announced the suspension of deportation orders for those who have lost their refugee cases and / or found without documents in the country, at least until mid-April, most likely date will be postponed.

Vilma Filici, university professor in Canadian immigration issues, He said that before the closure of the borders of the country the Prime Minister made it clear that asylum seekers will not be accepted, and that also includes people who were coming from the United States, particularly those irregularly they crossed through the border blind spots.

"All these people will not be able to enter the country and will have to wait until the moment when the border reopens. But people arriving overland to the port of entry and are denied entry, It does not mean that then they will again deny or will be ineligible to seek refuge, because it could not enter because the border is closed by health precautions is not one of the criteria that makes a person ineligible to seek refuge in Canada. Thus, They will be able to do so when the borders are reopened ", he explained.

He added that, in the midst of bad news, for asylum seekers who are in Canada and they already had scheduled the hearing to go to present your case there is a very important news, and it is that all hearings have been canceled until at least 4 of May.

"On that date, depending on the situation you are living in Canada, it will determine whether further hearings are scheduled or if they are going to extend cancellations. But no case will be declared abandoned, and in the same way, if they had to submit documentation to comply with the time limits for evidence, That it is postponed ", he said.

He said that while the measure of returning asylum-seekers to the United States, Canada is not complying with the treaty signed with regard to refugees, which states that you have to allow people who are eligible and eligible to submit their case to the Refugee Council of Canada, "We must bear in mind that when it comes to an emergency situation as it is at this time, the government could take measures that generally could not be taken at another time, and one of them is not to allow entry to asylum seekers ".

"What we are trying to do all governments, and our country in particular, it is just trying to save the lives of Canadian citizens and who reside in Canada, and unfortunately in a situation like this need to take emergency measures, although they may seem cruel at some point, but there is another way of trying to control the spread of the virus ", he said.

Meanwhile, Janet Dench, Executive Director of the Canadian Council for Refugees, He said the decision taken by the government of Prime Minister Trudeau Justin violates Canada's international obligations.

“During a pandemic, we must fulfill our commitments to protect the rights of refugees and vulnerable migrants. This includes our fundamental legal obligation not to reject refugees at borders. We are surprised that the Government of Canada is not prepared to fulfill that commitment”, told reporters.