Asylum seekers at Canada border tents unfazed by delays, uncertainty

Asylum seekers at Canada border tents unfazed by delays, uncertainty
From Reuters - August 11, 2017

CHAMPLAIN, N.Y. (Reuters) - Asylum seekers, mainly from Haiti, clambering over a gully from upstate New York into Canada on Friday were undeterred by the prospect of days in border tents, months of uncertainty and signs of a right-wing backlash in Quebec.

More than 200 people a day are illegally walking across the U.S. border into Quebec to seek asylum, government officials said. Army tents have been erected near the border to house up to 500 people as they undergo security screenings.

Over 4,000 asylum seekers have walked into Canada in the first half of this year, with some citing U.S. President Donald Trumps tougher stance on immigration.

The cars carrying the latest asylum seekers begin arriving at dawn in Champlain, New York, across from the Canadian border. On Friday, the first groups included two young Haitian men, a family of five from Yemen and a Haitian family with young twins.

"We have no house. We have no family.If we return we have nowhere to sleep, no money to eat," said a Haitian mother of a 2-year-old boy, who declined to give her name.

Each family pauses a moment when a Royal Canadian Mountedpolice officer warns them they will be arrested if they cross the border illegally, before walking a well-trodden path across the narrow gully into Canada.

Asylum seekers are crossing the border illegally because a loophole in a U.S. pact allows anyone who manages to enter Canada to file an asylum claim and stay in Canada while they await their application outcome. Because the pact requires refugees to claim asylum in whatever country they first arrive, they would be turned back to the United States at legal border crossings.

They Haitian family is arrested immediately and bussed to the makeshift camp. Border agents led a line of about two dozen asylum seekers on Friday into a government building at Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle to be processed.

The Red Cross is providing food, hygiene items and telephone access, spokesman Carl Boisvert said. He estimated the fenced-off camp, which has been separated into sections for families and single migrants, is about half full.

Border staff and settlement agencies are straining to accommodate the influx, which has been partly spurred by false rumors of guaranteed residency permits.


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