Published: Fri, August 11, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Canadian army builds 500-person border camp as asylum-seeker numbers rise

Canadian army builds 500-person border camp as asylum-seeker numbers rise

During the first six months of the year, RCMP apprehended 3,350 asylum seekers entering Quebec at remote locations along the border, in apparent attempts to avoid a main tenet of 2004's Safe Third Country Agreement that requires asylum seekers to "request refugee protection in the first safe country they arrive in".

"It is summer, but the nights are cool sometimes, so we want to give these people comfort", he said.

The military-built camp would house hundreds of asylum seekers in heated tents fitted with flooring and electricity while they waited for their refugee applications to be processed, a statement from the military said.

The Canadian military has begun setting up tents near the U.S. border to house a growing number of refugees from the United States.

Montreal's Olympic Stadium is being used to house recent arrivals, and a mothballed hospital is being reopened to accommodate even more asylum seekers.

"The Canadian Armed Forces is aware of the hard situation that is requiring significant resources of Canada Border Services Agency, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and other partners in the area of St-Bernard-de-Lacolle", said Koronewski.

The Canadian Armed Forces were aware of the hard situation that requires significant resources, said Daniel Le Bouthillier, a spokesman for the Department of National Defence.

With the Trump administration's immigration crackdown this has led thousands of asylum seekers to cross the border through unofficial crossings such as the Roxham Road in St-Bernard-de-Lacolle.

The same could happen in Canada if an asylum seeker's claim is rejected.

Last week, Montreal's Olympic Stadium was set up to handle asylum seekers after the YWCA became too crowded, but the stadium is booked for other uses beginning next month, said officials at a news conference, so the tent city is being constructed. Many Haitians who had been living in Canada for years have since raced to get permanent residency on humanitarian or compassionate grounds.

According to statistics provided by the federal government, from January 1 to June 30 the RCMP, the federal agency responsible for border security between legal crossings, has intercepted 4,345 asylum seekers.

John Kelly, the then homeland security secretary, eventually allowed for a six-month extension to the program, which gives Haitians in the U.S. temporary protected status (TPS) as their country recovers from a series of disasters including the 2010 quake, a cholera epidemic and Hurricane Matthew.

Pierre Gerald, president of En Marche for Haiti, a Canadian advocacy group for Haitians, told BuzzFeed News this is the first time he's seen the government have to build temporary tents to deal with an influx of asylum seekers.

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