Canada is facing an “unprecedented” number of asylum seekers, who have crossed the border from the United States, officials said.
“We’ve never seen those numbers,” said Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) spokesman Claude Castonguay. “Even though our officers are patrolling 24 hours a day all year long, we’ve never seen such numbers coming in.”
RCMP intercepted almost 7,000 asylums seekers in the last six weeks in Quebec.
Officials stressed that the influx can be handled and at no time has the security of the country been compromised.
But they cautioned that while Canada remains an open, welcoming country, crossing into it is not “a ticket for permanent residence.”
“Coming to Canada, asking for asylum in Canada is not a guarantee for permanent residence in Canada,” said Louis Dumas, spokesman for the immigration ministry in a Thursday press conference.
Officials also tried to clear up misinformation spreading through social media and WhatsApp that claimed Canada is inviting people to claim asylum.
“It is not a message from the government of Canada,” Dumas said. “Strict processes are in place for all people claiming asylum, regardless of how they enter into Canada.”
He said 50% of Haitians who requested asylum in 2016 had their claims rejected.
Quebec’s premier Philippe Couillard had posted on his Facebook last week that it was a “very delicate situation.”
“It is unfortunate that these very vulnerable people were convinced that admission as a refugee in Canada and here in Quebec would be simple, even automatic. That’s not the case at all. There is no guarantee that asylum applications will be accepted, given the strict rules that govern them.”