A line of asylum seekers who identified themselves as from Haiti wait to enter into Canada from Roxham Road in Champlain New York - Reuters
TORONTO - 17 August 2017: The number of asylum seekers who illegally crossed the U.S. border into Canada more than tripled last month, according to Canadian government data released on Thursday, as migrants fled in fear of U.S. President Donald Trump's immigration crackdown.
More than 3,100 people walked across the border illegally in July to file refugee claims and were arrested, up from 884 in June, the federal government said.
Ninety-six percent of them went to Quebec, where an influx of asylum seekers, primarily Haitians, is sparking a backlash from opposition politicians and anti-immigrant groups in the primarily French-speaking province.
In the first 15 days of August, an additional 3,800 asylum seekers were arrested crossing the U.S. border into Quebec, said Royal Canadian Mounted Police Chief Superintendent Claude Castonguay.
Canada is struggling to house and provide social assistance for the influx of asylum seekers, as its refugee system faces the worst delays in years.
Canada's immigration and refugee department has launched a campaign on social media to counter misinformation regarding the country's refugee policy, which is believed to be one reason for the influx of refugees.
"Asking for asylum in Canada is not a guarantee for permanent residence in Canada, and it's extremely important we stress that," Louis Dumas, a spokesman for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, told reporters at a press conference at the border on Thursday.
Trump vowed to crack down on illegal immigration during his campaign and signed two executive orders soon after taking office to increase border security and interior enforcement.
Many of the most recent asylum seekers arriving in Quebec have been Haitians who face looming deportation from the United States when their temporary protected status expires in January 2018. But Canada ended its own ban on deportations to Haiti last summer. In the first quarter of this year, almost two-thirds of Haitian refugee claims were rejected, according to government figures.