Toronto Star

Asylum seekers doubled in August

Rise in numbers crossing into Quebec brings total to 40,000


The number of asylum seekers crossing into Quebec from the U.S. doubled in August, even as Ottawa attempts to play down the crisis.

Although the official count won’t come out until next week, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale’s office confirmed on Friday the August number for Quebec alone is estimated at 6,000, twice the 2,996 people intercepte­d by the RCMP in July. Most are Haitians.

The new number pushes the total refugee claimants toward the 40,000 mark with four months left in 2017. That’s a big increase; by comparison, Canada received 23,920 asylum seekers in all of last year.

Scott Bardsley, Goodale’s spokespers­on, said the number of irregular border-crossers arriving in Lacolle was around 200 to 250 a day in late July and early August, reaching 12,000 in total.

“While the number of people coming to seek asylum has moderated, we cannot be complacent. It is far too soon to determine a trend,” Bardsley said in an email.

“While Canada’s regular immigratio­n stream is carefully planned and managed in an orderly fashion over the long term, the other stream, spontaneou­s asylum seekers, is much smaller and largely unpredicta­ble.”

Ottawa has blamed the surge on misinforma­tion in migrant communitie­s in the U.S. as people cross illegally to circumvent a bilateral agreement that limits refugees to making asylum claims in the first of the two countries they arrive in.

The law only applies to those crossing the border at the official ports of entry.

In the past month, the Liberal government has dispatched MPs Emmanuel Dubourg and Pablo Rodriguez to Miami and Los Angeles to speak to the local Haitian and Hispanic communitie­s.

The goal is to inform them about Canadian laws and the fact that the country does not have any “special treatment” for migrants facing ejection by President Donald Trump’s administra­tion.

“We do not condone irregular migration. Entering Canada illegally is not a free ticket. Those seeking refuge here must follow the proper processes,” Bardsley said.

“Rigorous immigratio­n rules are enforced to ensure that asylumseek­ers who are genuinely at risk are welcomed and those who are not are removed.”

 ?? CHARLES KRUPA/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? Women arrive at an unofficial border near St-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Que.
CHARLES KRUPA/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Women arrive at an unofficial border near St-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Que.

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