Olympic Stadium Used to House Asylum Seekers

Montréal’s Olympic stadium is being used to house asylum seekers from the United States.  The provincial government estimates that as many as 1,000 people have crossed the American border into Quebec.  According to the CBC, many are Hatians.  Some are pregnant women, and children.

“We’ve never seen this before, Francine Dupuis PRAIDA spokesperson told the CBC.  PRAIDA is the Quebec agency responsible for aiding Asylum seekers their first few months. The request to use the stadium was made Friday.  100-450 cots have been set-up in the area around the concession stands.

The spike in asylum seekers is related to changes in immigration policy by the Trump Administration.  In June, parts of the infamous travel ban barring people from six majority Muslim countries from entering the country into effect.

The other shift in policy directly affects Haitians.  Trump has threatened to revoke the special protective status granted to those who arrived following the 2010 earthquake.  Approximately 58,000 Haitians could be deported back to Haiti as of January 2018.

Canada signed the “Safe Third Country Agreement,” with the United States, meaning those claiming refugee status would need to claim it in the first country they arrive in.  It’s valid at all official land crossings.  There are unguarded crossings across open areas where refugees can slip through.

Those who manage the crossing are taken to official checkpoints and processed.  They are detained for 48 hours, and released pending an asylum hearing.   Quebec, and Manitoba have seen the highest spike in asylum seekers.