Officials in Canada are scrambling to accommodate hundreds of migrants fleeing from the United States in fear of being deported back to their home countries by the Trump administration. 500 migrants arrived on Tuesday, and another 300 people arrived on Wednesday. The average has grown to 150 people per day requesting asylum in Canada. Some 4,345 migrants arrived in the first six months of 2017, and another 1,000 arrived in July alone. Migrants that cross at official land border crossing are denied asylum on the spot, and are sent back to the United States, under an agreement between the two countries. The "Safe Third Country Agreement" was signed on December 5, 2002, as part of a plan to improve security between the two countries in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. However, the agreement applies only to official land border crossings. For that reason, most migrants simply cross the border at an unmanned location. By entering Canada illegally, they bypass this agreement. They can then claim refugee status, seek asylum, and then stay while their refugee applications are being processes. Canadian Broadcasting
Hundreds of migrants have crossed into Canada by walking along a dirt crossing into the Quebec town of Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle.
Canadian authorities were unprepared for the sudden surge in migrants. To accommodate them, Montreal's Olympic Stadium, built for the 1976 summer Olympics, has been transformed into a makeshift refugee center. Others are being sent to schools, which are not in session during the summer. Other accommodations will have to be found when schools open in September.
Some 70% of the migrants are from Haiti, but others are from Sudan, Turkey and Eritrea. There are also some who are US citizens fleeing to Canada.
Most of the asylum seekers are from Haiti, who arrived in the United States following the January 2010 earthquake. The Department of Homeland Security under President Obama granted Haiti the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) benefit following the earthquake, which permits them to stay in the country and work, and send remittances back to their families in Haiti.
Besides Haiti, several Latin American countries have TPS status. El Salvador has had TPS status since 2001 because of a devastating earthquake. Nicaragua and Honduras have had TPS status since a hurricane that happened 18 years ago.
The TPS for Haiti was meant to last only 18 months, but it kept getting 18-month extensions under the Obama administration. When the last TPS extension expired in May, the DHS announced a final six-month extension. In a statement from DHS:
# "The Department of Homeland Security urges Haitian TPS recipients who do not have another immigration status to use the time before Jan. 22, 2018, to prepare for and arrange their departure from the United States"...
So many Haitian refugees have been taking the DHS advice and arranging their departure from the United States by traveling to Canada. They were encouraged by a welcoming tweet from Canada's prime minister Justin Trudeau on January 28, shortly after Trump announced his travel ban:
# "To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada"
Trudeau's tweet was followed by a picture of him greeting a refugee family. The two tweets received over a million likes and half-a-million retweets.... Canadian TV News and AFP