Montreal stadium becomes temporary shelter for large influx of Haitian refugees

By Laura Ingle

Published August 03, 2017

Canadians have rolled out a welcome for refugees seeking asylum - but now find themselves scrambling to accomodate the large numbers who have taken them up on their offer.

In June alone, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police caught nearly 900 people, most in Quebec, between ports of entry.

According to the Montreal Gazette, the number of refugees entering Canada tripled in the last two weeks, from 50 a day to 150. The newspaper said at this rate, Canada will receive an historic 36,000 asylum seekers this year, about a third of them arriving in Quebec.

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The numbers are so large that Montreal this week turned the historic Montreal Olympic Stadium into a temporary shelter for refugees. At least ten local shelters set up to house the refugees are already filled to capacity.

Since Wednesday, asylum seekers, most Haitians, have been arriving at the Montreal Stadium by the busloads.

Illegal immigration to Canada has increased the past few years – but it took off this spring after President Trump announced his administration would remove the Temporary Protective Status, or TPS, granted to nearly 60,000 Haitians living in the U.S. after the 2010 earthquake. The status is set to expire in January 2018.

Human rights activists have been urging the administration to extend the deadline.

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“We want to make sure that we are not sending somebody back who will face disease or not able to feed their families,” said Jennifer Quigley from Human Rights First.

The announcement, experts say, has many Haitians who fear deportation heading to Canada.

Trump is showing no signs of backing down on immigration policies. On Wednesday, he announced that he would back a proposal to cut legal immigration by changing the criteria to enter the country.

In March, Canadian officials said that none of the asylum seekers who have crossed the border this year have been charged for illegally entering the country. Their immigration status will be decided by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada.

The Olympic Stadium, one of Montreal’s most well-known landmarks, was built in the 1970s for the 1976 Summer Olympics. It was occupied by the Montreal Expos until the team left the city in 2004. More recently, it has been used by soccer teams.

Montreal has a large Haitian community. The city’s mayor, Denis Coderre, has said he welcomes the refugees.  

Laura Ingle currently serves as a New York-based correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) and also frequently anchors FOXNews.com/LIVE. She joined FNC as a Dallas-based correspondent in 2005.

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