Asylum seekers at Canada border unfazed by tents, months of uncertainty

  • In US
  • 2017-08-11 17:03:14Z
  • By By Anna Mehler Paperny

By Anna Mehler Paperny

CHAMPLAIN, N.Y. (Reuters) - Asylum seekers, mainly from Haiti, clambering over a gully from upstate New York into Canada on Friday were undeterred by the prospect of days in border tents, months of uncertainty and signs of a right-wing backlash in Quebec.

More than 200 people a day are illegally walking across the border into Quebec to seek asylum, government officials said. Army tents have been erected near the border to house up to 500 people as they undergo security screenings.

Over 4,000 asylum seekers have walked into Canada in the first half of this year, with some citing U.S. President Donald Trump's tougher stance on immigration.

The cars carrying the latest asylum seekers begin arriving at dawn in Champlain, New York across from the Canadian border. On Friday, the first groups included two young Haitian men, a family of five from Yemen and a Haitian family with twin infants.

"We have no house. We have no family. If we return we have nowhere to sleep, no money to eat," said a Haitian mother of a two-year-old boy, who declined to give her name.

Each family pauses a moment when a Royal Canadian Mounted police officer warns them they will be arrested if they cross the border illegally, before walking a well-trodden path across the narrow gully into Canada.

After immediately being arrested, they are bussed to the makeshift camp. Border agents led a line of about two dozen asylum seekers on Friday into a government building at Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle to be processed.

The Red Cross is providing food, hygiene items and telephone access, spokesman Carl Boisvert said. He estimated the fenced-off camp, which has been separated into sections for families and single migrants, is about half full.

Border staff and settlement agencies are straining to accommodate the influx, which has been partly spurred by false rumors of guaranteed residency permits.

"(Canada's immigration minister) has stated multiple times about the necessity of orderly migration," said spokesman Hursh Jaswal.

Canada is on track for the highest refugee claims this year in almost a decade. More than 4,300 of the 18,500 people who filed claims in the first half of 2017 crossed the border illegally.

The majority of illegal border crossers have been arriving in Quebec, where the influx is prompting a backlash.

Francois Legault, leader of Quebec's right-wing opposition party Coalition Avenir Quebec, called for a harder line on asylum seekers in a Facebook post, accusing the government of issuing "an invitation to stampede toward the Quebec border without going through customs."

Once processed, asylum seekers are put on buses to Montreal, the largest city in the mainly French-speaking province of Quebec, which has opened its Olympic Stadium, a former hospital, a school, and other places to house people.

After leaving the camp, asylum seekers face a long wait and an uncertain future: delays for refugee hearings are the longest they have been in years and time spent in the U.S. can count against applicants claims.

Canada ended its ban on deportations to Haiti last year and the success rate for Haitian asylum seekers has been mixed.

Edmond Clervoir and his family spent three days at the Quebec border and have been in Montreal's Olympic stadium a week, sleeping on cots among hundreds housed in the arena.

"There are many steps to go through," said Clervoir, who had worked in a Boston hotel for a year before packing up. "But we'll go through those steps."

(Reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny; Editing by Chris Reese)


More Related News

Gord Downie, lead singer of The Tragically Hip, has died
Gord Downie, lead singer of The Tragically Hip, has died

TORONTO (AP) - Gord Downie, who made himself part of Canada's national identity with songs about hockey and small towns as lead singer and songwriter of iconic rock band The Tragically Hip, has died at age 53 after a battle with brain cancer.

Children born in Afghanistan captivity fear new lives in Canada won't last
Children born in Afghanistan captivity fear new lives in Canada won't last

After years of living underground, shuffled between cells no bigger than a bathtub, the three children of a US-Canada couple held for years by Islamist militants are marveling at the sun and adjusting to their first taste of freedom - but are still terrified that "this magical wonderland" will end, their father has said. Joshua Boyle, his American wife, Caitlan Coleman, and their children were rescued on Wednesday, after being abducted by Taliban-linked militants in 2012 while traveling through a mountainous region of Afghanistan. As the family made the long journey from Pakistan to Smiths Falls, a town of 9,000 people near Ottawa, the children - all of whom were born while the couple...

'This Should Not Have Happened.' A Drone Crashed Into a Canadian Passenger Plane
'This Should Not Have Happened.' A Drone Crashed Into a Canadian Passenger Plane

But everybody on board was OK

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply


Top News: US

Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.