By Barnabas Sonayon,
Nigerians seeking to migrate to Canada need to go through the regular channel rather than jump the border from the United States and risk deportation.
In an interview in Lagos, the Canadian Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Mr Ahmed D. Hussen said although Canada welcome skilled and semi-skilled Africans, it was not happy with irregular migration of some Africans, especially Nigerians.
Mr. Hussen said many Nigerians were regular migrants in Canada, but that at the same time Nigerians constituted the second group of irregular migrants in the country.
“Essentially, the movement is people come in from the United States. They don’t present themselves at an official point of entry. They jump the border in between points of entry. They go to a section of the border that is not official, making asylum claim.
“So for those people who are crossing irregularly, last year Nigerian nationals were the second largest number of people claiming asylum. This year (2018) so far, Nigerians have been the highest and we are concerned about that”, says Mr. Hussen.
The Minister said that a vast majority of Nigerians enter Canada through the regular means but that some people were coming through the back channel.
He explained that Canada was bound by international law to protect asylum seekers who could prove their refugee status.
“Even though the act of jumping the border is illegal, if you do that and then you claim asylum, we are obligated under international law to give you fair hearing of your case to see if you see if your case has merit or not.”
According to the Canadian Immigration Minister, jumping the border is not a “free ticket to Canada” as such people would be arrested and taken through rigorous security clearance before their case for asylum would be heard and where are not able to prove their case, they would be deported.
Mr. Hussen explained that “the reason why this is of concern to us (Canada) is that we feel that a good number of these people are people who are well-off, who have enough money to buy a plane ticket to the United States; they have enough financial foundation to get a US visa. So we feel that those individuals –some of them are professionals –they could apply through the regular channels, they could come to Canada regularly. We are an open country.”
He said Canada had taken up the issue of irregular migration by Nigerians with the authorities in Abuja and the United States government.
Mr. Hussen warned Nigerians seeking Canadian visa to be wary of unscrupulous travel agents who might want to take advantage of their desperation to land them in trouble.