Haitians Flee Over US Border Into Canada Over Whatsapp Hoax

Samuel Osborne, Independent, August 8, 2017

Thousands of Haitians have fled from the United States to Canada under the threat of deportation under Donald Trump, some because of WhatsApp messages falsely saying the country would welcome them.

Around 58,000 Haitians are living in the US under temporary protection status (TPS) since the Caribbean island was ravaged by an earthquake in 2010.

However, the US President has threatened to end the status, leading many to consider Canada, especially after false rumours spread the country was automatically welcoming people with TPS.

One message, sent via WhatsApp and reported by CBC, said Canada “invited and even encouraged all Hatians to apply for residence.”

It went on to say the Canadian government would cover “the fees”.

But the false information could mean many Haitians will face deportation back to the US or even Haiti if their asylum claims in Canada are rejected.

Since the false messages spread, some 250 to 300 people have sought asylum in Canada every day, up from around 50 a day in July.

To cope with the increase, Montreal’s Olympic stadium has been used as a temporary shelter for up to 1,050 asylum seekers.

Last weekend, hundreds rallied at the stadium to show their support for the asylum seekers, while an anticipated anti-immigration protest failed to materialise.

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