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Haitian family fleeing Donald Trump's America tries to find footing in Montreal

Haitian family fleeing Donald Trump's America tries to find footing in Montreal
From CBC - September 13, 2017

Just a few months ago Louis-Jean Louis had a job, a house filled with possessions and two kids in school in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Now he stands in an empty Ahuntsic apartment with nothing but a few suitcases on the floor and a stack of family photos leaningagainst the bare walls.

Louis's nine-year-old daughter Kiwanna explains why the family fled: "To get away from Donald Trump."

Louissays the decisionto pack their bags and take their chances in Canada was motivated by worry that the U.S. president's tough talk on deporting illegal immigrants was more than just post-campaign rhetoric.

"Everybody watching the news see Donald Trump that he do not play. He wants to do more than he said he would do," Louis says.

Family part of big summer influx

In July alone, 2,996 peoplemostly of Haitian origincrossed illegally into Quebec to seek asylum, many at a spot in the woods just a few kilometres west of the regular Lacolle border crossing.

The fact that they did not cross at a designatedpoint-of-entry allowed them to skirt the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement, which prevents most migrants from claiming asylum in Canada if they are coming from countries deemed to be safe, such as the United States.

Canada still considers the U.S. to be a safe third country,but since Trump's ride into power on a wave of anti-immigrant populism, many U.S. migrants without securestatus in that country fearremaining in the U.S.is anything but safe.

"I listen to news and Trump pressure," Louissays. "Isay if I can move [to Canada]I get more security, and my life be safe."

2-day bus trip north

In July, the Louis family took a two-day bus ride to the northernborder where the family crossed into Canada, suitcases in hand.

'They said Dad was going toget arrested, and that made Mommy cry.' - KiwannaLouis, 9

There they were met by RCMP officers and detained.

"I cried," Kiwanna says. "They said Dad was going toget arrested, and that made Mommy cry."

Challenging search for lodging

'Everythinggonnabe fresh for my kids'

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