Many asylum seekers are Haitians fleeing possible deportation from Trump’s America
Tents were assembled Wednesday by the Canadian military as temporary shelters to accommodate a surge in asylum seekers crossing into Quebec from the United States.
The Canadian Armed Forces said in a statement the camp will hold up to 500 people and will consist of “modular tent shelters with floors, lighting and heating”.
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.
“These will be used as additional shelters for asylum claimants who are waiting to be processed by the CBSA [Canadian Border Services Agency],” said CBSA spokesperson Judith Gadbois-St-Cyr.
The Royal Victoria Hospital, shuttered in 2015 due to age, will also be opened and can accommodate about 320 people.
There are currently about 700 asylum seekers waiting to be processed, many of them Haitians who were allowed into the United States under temporary protection status after a massive earthquake struck that country in 2010.
But U.S. President Donald Trump said he would end the protection when the term runs out in January and about 50,000 Haitians may be deported.
The same could happen in Canada if an asylum seeker’s claim is rejected.
There are so many Haitians entering Canada that on Tuesday, two Haitian government officials, including Foreign Affairs Minister Antonio Rodrigue, arrived in Montreal and conferred with Mayor Denis Coderre.
Rodrigue said the visit was to show asylum seekers “the Haitian people and government are with them, are behind them and don’t forget about them”.
Officials at Immigration Canada said the number of asylum seekers illegally crossing into Quebec is averaging 200 per day, up from 50 daily two weeks ago.
While the military is setting up the tents at the Canada-U.S. border at Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, soldiers will have no role in policing, officials said, noting those duties are handled by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.