Quebec Sees Increase In Asylum-Seekers Sneaking Across U.S.-Canada Border

Jun 15, 2017

In recent months, the number of refugees fleeing the U.S. for Canada has increased.  The majority of the illegal crossings are people traveling through rural New York State — and occasionally Vermont — into Quebec. 

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police intercepted 1,316 illegal crossings in Quebec during March and April —double the number that crossed in the two months prior. 

Quebec continues to see the most illegal border crossings of all the Canadian provinces this year. By comparison, Manitoba saw the second highest influx of asylum seekers; it had a total of 477 people sneak in from January to April 2017. 

Many of the Canada-bound travelers are foreign nationals living in the U.S. who fear that they won't be granted asylum status here, and believe they have better chances up north.  

Because of a U.S.-Canada agreement, people who are already in the U.S. cannot legally request asylum at the Canada border. So many people continue to use backcountry roads to walk into Canada, instead of presenting at a legal checkpoint.

Eric Gasse of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police says many people are walking across along the well-known Roxham Road in Champlain, N.Y., where there are police stationed much of the time. 

"It's kind of funny because we tell them if you pass the border, you're going to get arrested, and they start walking toward us, so we're not used to that, but they want to get arrested, so that's how we do our work," says Gasse.

After the Mounties determine that a person is not a criminal or a threat to the public, they hand them over to the Canada Border Services Agency which helps them file a claim for refugee status. 

Canada Border Services Agency reports that in recent months people seeking asylum have been mostly coming from these countries of origin: Haiti, Sudan, Turkey, Eritrea and Djibouti.

See more data on those seeking asylum in Canada here.