Canada opens Montreal’s Olympic Stadium to Haitian refugees fleeing US


Canada opens Montreal’s Olympic Stadium to Haitian refugees fleeing US

Genevieve Leigh

7 August 2017

Thousands of asylum-seeking immigrants are fleeing the United States to Canada amid increasing deportation fears. So many people have crossed the border in recent weeks that Canadian immigration agencies have been compelled to open the Olympic Stadium in Montreal to temporarily house the refugees.

The makeshift shelter at the stadium can hold up to 300 migrants who sleep on cots set up in the concessions area. Quebec, overwhelmed by the recent spike in asylum seekers, has also begun to use student dormitories, shuttered nursing homes and hotels to house the influx of immigrants.

In the first six months of the year, 6,500 asylum seekers arrived in Quebec, accounting for 35 percent of those seeking asylum in Canada so far this year. Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil reported last week that between July 1 and 19, Quebec was receiving roughly 50 asylum requests per day. That number has surged to 150 claims per day, sometimes more. PRAIDA, a government-funded immigrant-support program in Quebec, said it received 1,200 new requests from refugees in July alone—four times the normal monthly total.

Media and government sources are reporting that anywhere from 70 to 90 percent of the asylum seekers they are receiving are Haitian.

Under an agreement with Washington, migrants arriving at official Canadian border points who have already made a refugee claim in the United States are automatically turned away. But if the migrants cross “irregularly,” usually by foot outside official ports of entry, they can still seek asylum in Canada.

The wave of asylum-seeking Haitians started to swell in late May when the Trump administration recommended ending the Temporary Protected…

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