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Black U.S. citizen Kyle Canty denied refugee status in Canada

U.S. citizen Kyle Canty says he fears for his life in his home country because of his race.

U.S. citizen Kyle Canty says he fears for his life in his home country because of his race. (CBC)

A U.S. citizen has been denied asylum in Vancouver after asking Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board to grant him refugee status because he feared police in his home country would kill him because he’s black.

Kyle Lydell Canty, 30, crossed into B.C.’s Lower Mainland in early September 2015, telling border agents that he was just visiting, but once in Vancouver he decided to apply to remain as a refugee.

Canty argued that black people are “being exterminated at an alarming rate” in the U.S. and included examples such as the shooting of Michael Brown in Missouri and the death of Eric Garner in New York City at the hands of police.

“I find that the claimant is not a Convention refugee in that he does not have a well-founded fear of persecution for a Convention ground in the United States of America,” wrote the refugee board’s Ron Yamauchi in his decision.

“His removal to the United States of America would not subject him personally to a risk to his life or to a risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.”

Yamauchi acknowledged Canty’s submitted evidence that black people in the U.S. are “stopped and questioned by police at the highest rate compared to other racial groups,” but said the issue to be decided was one of persecution, “which is treatment that is worse than harassment.”

However, he said Canty had not personally had experiences with police that “resulted in assault, excessive detention or lack of due process.”

Claims police harassment

Born in New York, Canty lived in six different states before arriving in Canada, which he said he’s never been to before.

He told the refugee board that in every state he has resided, police have harassed and targeted him because of his race.

As part of the evidence submitted to the board, Canty edited together multiple point-of-view videos of his interaction with police, including one where he was arrested for trespass in Salem, Ore., when he spent two hours talking on the phone and using free Wi-Fi at a bus station.

But Yamauchi wrote that Canty didn’t seem intimidated in the videos.

“My impression is that he was presenting himself in a bold manner partly for reasons of performance,” he wrote.

(…)

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