A Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer informs migrants of their rights at a known illegal crossing point bewteen the U.S and Quebec, Aug. 7, 2017. PHOTO: Charles Krupa/Associated Press

Quebec sends hefty bill to federal government for migrant asylum seekers

This week the province of Quebec sent a bill to Ottawa of some $146 million.

This is the amount it says it has had to pay so far to accommodate thousands of migrants who crossed illegally into Canada at a point along the Quebec-U.S. border and who have made asylum claims.

The Quebec immigration minister and the minister responsible for Canadian Relations have sent the bill to federal immigration minister Ahmed Hussein saying it’s the federal government’s responsibility to deal with asylum seekers and border issues. (“Il convient de rappeler que la gestion du mouvement des demandeurs d’asile et de la frontière canadienne relève de la responsabilité du gouvernement federal”)

Migrants who have crossed illegally into Canada to claim asylum step out of a temporary processing tent to receive lunch at the Canada-United States border in Quebec. Thursday, August 10, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

They note that between 2012 and 2016, Ottawa dealt with some 3,500 asylum requests, but in 2017 alone that number increased to 24,980, a 700% increase. The provincial ministers note that over half that number crossed into Quebec.

Quebec says the $146 million estimate includes temporary housing, feeding, and the multitude of other costs while asylum seekers wait for the claims to be heard by the federal government, which can take up to five years given the backlog.

Most of the migrants are Haitians who feared their temporary protections status in the U.S. will be withdrawn forcing them to return to Haiti.

The federal government has said it will invest $173 million in security and processing operations at these known illegal crossing points, and although Quebec has said it welcomes the investment, but says it’s not enough.

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