Olympic Stadium to House Surge in US Asylum Seekers
Montreal’s Olympic Stadium is being transformed into a temporary, refugee housing centre to deal with a sudden, intense surge of asylum seekers from United States. It is estimated that more than 1,000 asylum seekers travelled from U.S. to Canada in July alone.
“We’ve never seen this before,” said Francine Dupuis, spokesperson for PRAIDA, the provincial government organization that helps claimants in their first months. “It’s really quite a bit more intense than what we’re used to.”
Quebec Red Cross volunteers are helping to set up cots at the stadium and bring in supplies for their immediate needs. The first people are expected to arrive at the stadium today.
The sudden spike is being attributed to US President Donald Trump’s policies and particularly his threat last May to withdraw the protective status of Haitians who took refuge in the country following the 2010 earthquake. Up to 58,000 people could face deportation back to Haiti in January 2018.
Montreal’s large Haitian community is a probable reason why many Haitians are crossing the border into Quebec right now.
“Obviously, there is a stronger attraction to coming to Quebec for Haitians than in other provinces,” Francine Dupuis said. “They have the help of their community to get settled.”
Many Canadians never imagined a time when people from the US would be seeking asylum in Canada or the idea of refugees flooding across the border. Then again, many people never imagined a narcissistic man like Donald Trump ever becoming President and quickly turning everything the US stood for upside down.