SAINT-BERNARD-DE-LACOLLE, Quebec (Reuters) – Dozens of army tents dotted the Canadian border on Thursday to house hundreds of asylum seekers, many from Haiti, streaming into the country from upstate New York to file refugee claims.
More than 200 people a day are irregularly walking across the border into Quebec to seek asylum, government officials said. Over 4,300 asylum seekers have crossed illegally into Canada in the first half of this year, with some citing U.S. President Donald Trump’s tougher stance on immigration.
Canada’s military has set up heated tents to house up to 500 asylum seekers as they undergo security screenings near the border. Officers from the Canada Border Services Agency and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have also been redeployed to the area to provide additional assistance as authorities grapple with the influx.
The claimants, once they have crossed the border illegally, are brought by buses to the makeshift camp where their belongings are kept in shipping containers.
About 25 asylum seekers, predominantly men, occupied some of the tents on the temporary encampment on Thursday afternoon. They lay on cots, charged their phones and sat at wooden picnic benches in a light drizzle.
Most of the recent arrivals have been Haitians, officials say, who fear they will be deported from the U.S. as their “temporary protected status,” which granted more than 50,000 Haitians residency in the U.S. after the 2010 earthquake, is set to expire in January. Spurred by false accounts of guaranteed residency in Canada, they made for the border.