Canada to set up border camp as number of
asylum seekers swells
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[August 10, 2017]
By Allison Lampert
MONTREAL (Reuters) - Canada has deployed
soldiers to erect tents near the U.S. border to temporarily house
hundreds of asylum seekers crossing from New York state, officials said
on Wednesday, an influx of mostly Haitians prompted by fear of
deportation by the U.S. government.
Around 250 asylum seekers are arriving each day in Montreal, the largest
city in Canada's mainly French-speaking Quebec province. Quebec has
opened its Olympic Stadium, a former hospital and a school among other
places to house people.
Heated tents will accommodate up to 500 people as Canadian border
officials process mainly Haitians walking into Canada from the United
Nearly 100 soldiers will be in Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, across the
border from Champlain, New York, to set up the tents and add to
temporary facilities already organized by the Royal Canadian Mounted
Police (RCMP) and Canadian Border Services Agency.
The Canadian Armed Forces were aware of the difficult situation that
requires significant resources, said Daniel Le Bouthillier, a spokesman
at the Department of National Defence.
The military would have no role in security matters, Le Bouthillier said
in emailed statement. "When the site is completed, the military will
return to their home base."
Hundreds of Haitians have crossed into Quebec in recent weeks, spurred
partly by false accounts of asylum seekers being able to immediately
obtain residency after entering Canada.
"There is an enormous amount of fake information circulating saying that
it is easy to come to Canada," said Marjorie Villefranche, general
manager of Maison d'Haiti, a Montreal community center that assists
"They are hearing that Canada doesn't deport people."
The Canadian immigration ministry, on its Facebook page on Aug. 5,
discouraged illegal entries and noted that messages posted elsewhere
online suggesting that Canada is inviting people to seek refugee status
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A family who identified themselves as from Haiti are confronted by a
Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officer as they try to enter
into Canada from Roxham Road in Champlain, New York.
Canadian authorities accepted 50.5 percent of the 410 refugee claims
by Haitians heard in 2016, government data showed.
Like the United States, Canada had a deportation ban on Haitians
after a 2010 earthquake. More than 50,000 people affected by Haiti's
earthquake have been allowed to remain in the United States under
"temporary protected status" according to the U.S. Department of
This year, the department extended their status through next
January, but officials said in May that people covered under that
status should begin acquiring travel documents to return to Haiti.
Canada's deportation ban, which was enacted after a 2004 coup and
extended after the earthquake, expired in August 2016. Many Haitians
who had been living in Canada for years have since raced to get
permanent residency on humanitarian or compassionate grounds.
In the first half of 2017, more than 4,300 asylum seekers walked
across the U.S. border into Canada. Even before the flow of Haitian
asylum seekers Canada was on track to have the most refugee claims
in almost a decade.
The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has taken a
tougher stance on immigration with plans to cut legal immigration by
50 percent over 10 years.
(Reporting by Allison Lampert; additional reporting by Anna Mehler
Paperny in Toronto; Editing by Toni Reinhold and Grant McCool)
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