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. The residence will be able to house roughly 300 people.
While under Canada's Third Safe Country agreement with the US asylum seekers who attempt to cross at legal border crossings are turned away at the border because the U.S.is considered a safe country, the government says under the UN Refugee Convention it is compelled to hear the asylum claims of those who cross the border through unofficial crossings and make their refugee claims inland.
Heated tents will accommodate up to 500 people as Canadian border officials process mainly Haitians walking into Canada from the United States.
Francine Dupuis, of Praida, a provincial programme for the reception and integration of asylum seekers, told the BBC that another 1,200 people crossed into the province in July, about 90% of them from Haiti. "The Canadian Armed Forces will have no role in security matters", Mr. Le Bouthillier said in an email.
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.
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"There's the United States; this is Canada".
The wave of Haitians stems from their loss of "temporary protected status" in the United States, which was granted to 60,000 Haitians after the Caribbean nation was devastated by a 2010 natural disaster.
The migrants fear the U.S.is becoming less welcoming and have made a decision to try their luck seeking asylum in Canada.
Numerous recent refugee claimants crossing into Quebec are Haitians who have been living in America for years but now face deportation. Even before the flow of Haitian asylum seekers Canada was on track to have the most refugee claims in nearly a decade.