According to Welcome Place, 83 asylum seekers have made their way across the US-Canada border in to Manitoba this year already.
This number joins the other hundreds waiting for a hearing for their refugee claims in Manitoba.
In 2016, Welcome Place said it worked with 266 asylum seekers who crossed at the Manitoba-North Dakota border. That number jumped significantly in 2017 to 1,126 people.
These numbers are adding to a growing list of asylum seekers who are waiting for their claims to be heard, in hopes of remaining in Canada after fleeing their war-torn countries.
David H. Davis is an Immigration Lawyer and he said while the wait time is supposed to only be two months or less, that just isn’t the case.
“A lot of our clients who came to us in March and April of 2017, they’re getting their hearings now in February, March, April and even in May of 2018,” Davis said.
Rosanna Pancotto is an Immigration Consultant and she echoes the concern.
“They can essentially be here in limbo for 2 years, without status,” Pancotto said.
Davis said of his nearly 25 cases with refugee claimants, only a few cases have gone to a hearing.
“They’re supposed to have their hearing I think within 45 to 60 days of arrival,” Davis said.
Now, if their claims are rejected the immigration experts said they have to be returned back to the country they came from.
“If they come through the United States, our obligation is to send them back to the United States,” Pancotto said.
She said, once they’re returned to the uncertainty they originally fled across the border, it is up to those authorities on whether or not they’ll deport the refugee claimants back to their home countries they tried to escape from.
Pancotto said for most refugee claimants, they’re stuck sitting in a state of limbo and that carries a big toll on their personal lives while they wait.
“They are sheltering themselves, they’re becoming a little bit anti-social, they don’t want to make friends because they don’t know if they’ll stay friends or be here,” Pancotto said.