Canada Builds Border Camp for Asylum Seekers Fleeing US

Matthew Turner has lived on Roxham Road for almost a year

The Canadian government has deployed soldiers to set up encampments providing temporary shelter for hundreds of asylum seekers attempting to walk across the border between NY and Quebec.

Gadbois-St-Cyr said the camp would be ready to accept people "in a short time" but could not say exactly when that would be.

A record number have crossed into Canada this year.

Almost 100 soldiers will be in Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, across the border from Champlain, New York, on Wednesday to set up the tents and add to temporary facilities already organised by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and Canadian Border Services Agency.

Heated tents will accommodate up to 500 people as Canadian border officials process mainly Haitians walking into Canada from the United States.

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

The majority of the soldiers will return to their home bases once the site is completed, the Forces said.

The Canadians arrest the migrants as soon as they step across the border.

Daniel Le Bouthillier, head of media relations for National Defence, said the military received the request from civilian authorities. "Its staff will not participate in law enforcement tasks and will not assist civil authorities in the conduct of their law enforcement duties". Quebec has opened its Olympic Stadium, a former hospital and a school among other places to house people. The delays mean migrants have been forced to wait in an area with no beds, just benches and chairs.

People hold up signs in support of asylum seekers during a rally outside the Olympic Stadium in Montreal, Sunday, August 6, 2017.

Francine Dupuis, of Praida, a provincial programme for the reception and integration of asylum seekers, told the BBC that another 1,200 people had crossed into Quebec in July with about about 90 per cent of the migrants coming from Haiti.

They are preparing a place for tents that can hold nearly 500 people.

John Kelly, the then homeland security secretary, eventually allowed for a six-month extension to the program, which gives Haitians in the USA temporary protected status (TPS) as their country recovers from a series of disasters including the 2010 quake, a cholera epidemic and Hurricane Matthew.

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

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