Vive helps asylum seekers in U.S. legally reach Canada
Published Friday, April 21, 2017 10:00PM EDT
Two migrant families fearing deportation from the United States have been granted a chance for a new life in Canada, thanks to legal help from the Vive shelter in Buffalo, N.Y.
Vive says it has helped as many as 500 people cross into Canada legally in the past few months alone. CTV’s Peter Akman spoke with members of two families who learned Thursday that they could cross. All arrived safely on Friday.
The migrants, who had lived at Vive for about one month, seemed relieved after spending roughly 10 hours with Canadian border officials. They said everyone was interviewed, had their mobile phones and social media accounts scrutinized and their paperwork double-checked. They were also fingerprinted.
Among the asylum seekers allowed to cross Friday was Alvaro Beltran, who said he fled violence-plagued El Salvador two years ago and had been living without legal status in the State of Maryland ever since.
Beltran said he’s nervous but excited to start a new life in Hamilton, Ont. “It makes me feel happy because I could have a regular life,” he said. Beltran said he plans to “start my family, start all my dreams.”
Jose Forero, who fled Venezuela several months ago on a U.S. tourist visa, said he believes God opened a door for him to go to Canada. He and his family arrived Friday in Mississauga, Ont., and he said he hopes to start a restaurant or grocery store.
Both men had to prove to border agents that they have family members in Canada, allowing them to get an exception to the Safe Third Country Agreement between Canada and the U.S.
Without family, the 2004 agreement requires asylum seekers to make their refugee claims in whichever of the two “safe” countries they arrive in first.
The agreement has been under increasing scrutiny since the election of U.S. President Donald Trump, who sought to stop all people from some Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. and has vowed to deport millions of illegal migrants.
Nearly 9,000 people have claimed asylum in Canada this year. Of that number, 1,860 have been intercepted by the RCMP for crossing illegally.
Canada’s Liberal government so far resisted making changes to the Safe Third Country Agreement, so the border jumping is expected to continue.
With a report from CTV’s Peter Akman in Buffalo, N.Y.