The Canadian government is attempting to check the number of refuge seekers from Nigeria who are flooding into Canada by means of the United States.
Canadian officials in Nigeria are working with the U.S. on developing tools to flag Nigerians applying for U.S. visas who may be at “high risk” of crossing illegally into Canada across the U.S. border.
The border jumping started with the election of US President Donald Trump, who promised to expel more than 11 million undocumented migrants
So far this year, the majority of illegal migrants arriving in Canada are Nigerians who have recently been issued U.S. travel visas.
Nigerians fleeing the violence of Boko Haram and other systemic persecutions in Nigeria find it marginally easier to obtain travel visas from the U.S. compared to Canada. But many see the United States as merely a transit point on the way to Canada, Olalere said.
It is apparent that they obtained those visas with the express intent to actually go to Canada,” said Hursh Jaswal, communications director for Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen.
“They land in the United States, where they stay for a very short period of time, and then make their way to Canada.”
Many Nigerians face persecution for their sexual orientation and women face high rates of domestic violence from their partners, as well as the threat of genital mutilation. Canada’s more progressive laws and attitudes towards these populations make it a more desirable place to live, Beuze said.
“They think that Canada will be a country where they will receive asylum and where they feel they will be able to integrate and resume a normal life, far away from persecution.”
Individuals and families fleeing from the violence and oppression of Nigeria are well versed in Canada’s immigration laws and have likely seen the statistics showing Nigerian refugee claimants have a 35 per cent success rate in having their claims accepted, Olalere said.
According to Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, about 2,500 migrants, mostly Nigerian nationals, entered Canada illegally in April, bringing the total so far this year to more than 7,300. They crossed on foot along a forest trail from New York state to Quebec province.
An average of 70-80 migrants per day have been making the trip of late, said Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale. Nearly 21,000 border jumpers were intercepted by federal police in 2017 and allowed to file a refugee claim. “Just over 90 percent of irregular migrants do not meet our criteria (for asylum) and they will have to leave Canada,” Garneau said, adding that 200 currently face imminent deportation after their refugee claims were rejected.
Last year, the majority of irregular migrants who arrived in Canada were Haitian, which was largely attributed to the Trump administration’s decision to lift the temporary protected status for immigrants from Haiti living in the U.S.
Meanwhile, a U.S. State Department spokesperson said Monday work is ongoing to improve screening processes for American visas, keeping in mind a need to balance safety and protection concerns with legitimate travel and immigration to the United States.