The number of U.S. citizens seeking asylum in Canada is growing sharply, according to data from the Canadian government.
In 2017, about 2,550 Americans sought refuge in Canada, which is more than a sixfold increase from the previous year, The Guardian reported. The Hill said that this is the highest number of U.S. citizens to apply for asylum in Canada since 1994, when Citizenship and Immigration Canada began keeping track.
Americans were the third largest group of asylum seekers, after Haitians and Nigerians.
The increase comes at the same time that President Donald Trump is cracking down in various ways on immigration to the United States.
Many of the U.S. citizens seeking asylum in Canada are the children of immigrant parents who fear they may be deported from the United States because they lack documentation, The Guardian said.
“Most of the Americans applying for refugee status are the children of non-residents,” Stéphane Handfield, an immigration lawyer in Montreal, told The Guardian. “They are U.S. citizens because they were born there, but they come across the border with their parents because they don’t want to be separated.”
Some families have chosen Canada because of a social media post by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in January 2017 that appeared to invite immigrants to the country. Trudeau said that Canada welcomed “those fleeing persecution, terror and war” around the same time that Trump was hardening his stance on immigrants to the United States, appearing to single out those from Muslim-majority countries.
Earlier this year, Trump moved to end temporary protected status (TPS) for more than 300,000 migrants from Haiti, El Salvador, Honduras and Sudan. A federal judge blocked that effort last month.
Also last month, Trump said he would sign an executive order putting an end to birthright citizenship, which confers citizenship on anyone born in the United States no matter the mother’s status. Many legal experts have said that change would be unconstitutional.
For those who seek asylum in Canada, the road is still not an easy one. Last year, about 1 in 4 Haitians seeking refuge were granted asylum, The Guardian said.