Members of the Canadian armed forces erect tents to house asylum seekers at the Canada-United States border in Lacolle, Que., Wednesday, August 9, 2017.

Members of the Canadian armed forces erect tents to house asylum seekers at the Canada-United States border in Lacolle, Que., Wednesday, August 9, 2017.
Photo Credit: PC / Graham Hughes

Canadian military builds camp to house asylum seekers near U.S. border

The federal government is deploying about 100 Canadian soldiers to build a temporary camp to house up to 500 asylum seekers near the Canada-United States border in Quebec.

The soldiers from Joint Task Force East will set up modular tents equipped with lighting and heating on a privately owned site leased by the government in Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle.

The camp is being built in anticipation of a large influx of asylum seekers from the U.S., said Stéphane Malépart, a spokesperson for Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

The announcement comes as authorities struggle to handle a surge in people crossing from New York State to Quebec at unofficial crossings to take advantage of a legal loophole that allows them to claim asylum in Canada.

Asylum seekers wait to be processed at the Canada Border Services Agency office in Lacolle, Que., Friday, August 4, 2017.
Asylum seekers wait to be processed at the Canada Border Services Agency office in Lacolle, Que., Friday, August 4, 2017. © PC/Ryan Remiorz

While under Canada’s Third Safe Country agreement with the U.S. 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.

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.

Patrick Lefort, a spokesperson for the CBSA, said there are currently 700 people waiting to be processed who have crossed at Roxham Road.

“The Canadian Armed Forces are aware of the difficult 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,” the military said in a statement.

Members of the Canadian armed forces raise a tent to house asylum seekers at the Canada-United States border in Lacolle, Que. Wednesday, August 9, 2017.
Members of the Canadian armed forces raise a tent to house asylum seekers at the Canada-United States border in Lacolle, Que. Wednesday, August 9, 2017. © PC/Graham Hughes

When the camp is completed, the soldiers will return to their home base, with the exception of a few who will remain on site to maintain the military’s equipment, the statement said.

“The Canadian Armed Forces will have no role in security matters,” said Evan Koronewski, a spokesperson for the Department of National Defence. “Its staff will not participate in law enforcement tasks and will not assist civil authorities in the conduct of their law enforcement duties.”

To accommodate the influx of asylum seekers authorities earlier set a temporary shelter at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium.

The city’s old Royal Victoria Hospital, which closed in 2015, will also be opened up to new arrivals, provincial authorities said Wednesday.

Immigration Canada said the number of asylum seekers crossing illegally near the Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle border crossing has quadrupled in the past two weeks from about 50 a day to 200 a day.

People hold up signs in support of asylum seekers during a rally outside the Olympic Stadium in Montreal, Sunday, August 6, 2017. The stadium is now being used as a temporary shelter for some of the hundreds of asylum claimants pouring across the New York-Quebec border every day.
People hold up signs in support of asylum seekers during a rally outside the Olympic Stadium in Montreal, Sunday, August 6, 2017. The stadium is now being used as a temporary shelter for some of the hundreds of asylum claimants pouring across the New York-Quebec border every day. © PC/Graham Hughes

According to statistics provided by the federal government, from Jan. 1 to June 30 the RCMP, the federal agency responsible for border security between legal crossings, has intercepted 4,345 asylum seekers. The majority of them, 3,350, crossed into Quebec, while 646 crossed into Manitoba, and 332 people crossed into British Columbia.

Many of the recent refugee claimants crossing into Quebec are Haitians who have been living in America for years but now face deportation.

In May, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that he would not be extending temporary protection status for Haitian nationals past January, when it’s set to expire.

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

Canada’s own program granting Haitian nationals temporary refuge here after the earthquake has already ended, after it was extended twice by the Trudeau government.

With files from CBC News

Tagged with: , ,
Posted in Immigration & Refuge

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1. RCInet.ca’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. RCInet.ca reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3. RCInet.ca’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.

*

One comment on “Canadian military builds camp to house asylum seekers near U.S. border
  1. Sterling says:

    This is a great measure but many of these refugees are coming from the US and have been working there. They have money so should be able to fund themselves to an extent while awaiting a decision. many are well dressed and caught flights then took taxis to the Canadian-US border which must have cost a lot of money. Our military should build tent cities for the thousands of homeless people in Canada or those struggling with mental health and addiction issues who need proper counselling facilities and medical care. They are Canadian citizens and we must not abandon them. Vancouver is a beautiful city for example but downtown is now full of homeless people or people with obvious mental health problems. There are no resources for them and nothing is being done to address the alarming increase in homelessness over the past 5 years in Vancouver.