Canada Builds Border Camp for Asylum Seekers Fleeing US

Litter on the U.S. side of Roxham Road

Litter on the U.S. side of Roxham Road

Teams of Canadian soldiers stretched canvas across the metal frames of tents at a camp site near the Quebec-U.S. border Wednesday as they helped fellow authorities cope with the crush of asylum seekers crossing into Canada.

Canada Border Services Agency spokesman Patrick Lefort told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation there was now a backlog of asylum seekers at Roxham Road, a popular crossing point near Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Quebec.

Now, they will be able to sleep a few hours waiting for the customs officers to do security checks.

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

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

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Francine Dupuis, who oversees a Quebec government-funded program that helps asylum seekers, said 2,620 people are now being housed in temporary accommodation in Montreal.

Around 250 asylum seekers are arriving each day in Montreal, the largest city in Canada's mainly French-speaking province of Quebec.

On Wednesday, almost 100 soldiers were sent to Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle - just across the border from Champlain, New York - to erect heated tents to temporarily house as many as 500 people, the armed forces said in a statement.

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

The site, located on a flat stretch of grass behind the building where asylum claimants are bused in from the border, was expected to accommodate up to 500 people.

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Like the United States, Canada had a deportation ban on Haitians after a 2010 quake. "Its staff will not participate in law enforcement tasks and will not assist civil authorities in the conduct of their law enforcement duties".

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 delays mean migrants have been forced to wait in an area with no beds, just benches and chairs. According to officials, more than 3,000 people crossed into Quebec in the first six months of the year.

More than 50,000 people who were affected by Haiti's 2010 quake have been living in the United States under "temporary protected status" for seven years.

Last week, Montreal's Olympic Stadium became the temporary home to hundreds of refugees.

It was granted after the 2010 quake, but now the Department of Homeland Security considers Haiti to be a safe country.

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