Asylum seekers: soldiers lend a helping hand

A line of asylum seekers who identified themselves as from Haiti wait to enter into Canada from Roxham Road in Champlain New York U.S

About 700 people are now put up on chairs, benches or sleeping on the floor of the St-Bernard-de-Lacolle border station for up to three days as Canada Border Services struggles to keep pace with the influx of migrants from the U.S.

Many Haitians fear their fate if they remain in the United States, because of the anti-immigrant rhetoric and actions by the Trump administration.

While the military is setting up the tents at the Canada-U.S. border at Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, soldiers will have no role in policing, officials said, noting those duties are handled by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Montreal's Mayor Denis Coderre tweeted last week that during July, as many as 2,500 asylum seekers fled the United States for Quebec.

Mr. Le Bouthillier said most of the soldiers will return to base once the camp is set up.

"They think the Trump administration will fly them back to Haiti and they don't want to take a chance", said Francine Dupuis, who runs PRAIDA, a government-funded program that helps asylum claimants adjust to life in Canada.

He said the wait is two to three days and there are now no beds, just benches and chairs.

The camp is being built in anticipation of a large influx of asylum seekers from the US, said Stéphane Malépart, a spokesperson for Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). A spokesperson for the Canada Border Services Agency told CBC-Radio Canada there are now 700 people waiting to be processed, and although the wait time is two or three days, the asylum seekers do not have access to beds. They will also install lighting and heating equipment.

The military says that once the site is completed, only a few will soldiers will stay behind.

Officials at Immigration Canada said the number of asylum seekers illegally crossing into Quebec is averaging 200 per day, up from 50 daily two weeks ago.

Numerous asylum seekers appear to be Haitians who have been living in the US for years and now face deportation, after Trump's administration decided in May to extend by only six months the temporary protected status granted after Haiti's deadly natural disaster in 2010.

Jean said numerous Haitians he has spoken to either had TPS in the U.S. or were undocumented.

The Canadian military has begun setting up tents near the USA border to house a growing number of refugees from the United States. The migrants hope is to gain legal status through the relatively forgiving Canadian asylum laws.

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.