Asylum seekers continue to cross Canada-U.S. border despite shutdown

Published June 24, 2020 10:42 a.m. ET
Updated June 24, 2020 10:51 a.m. ET

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The end of Roxham Road where thousands of asylum seekers have crossed is seen on March 20, 2020 in Hemmingford, Que. (THE CANADIAN PRESS / Ryan Remiorz)

OTTAWA -- New statistics show 21 people were apprehended by the RCMP crossing into Canada from the U.S. in May, despite the shutdown of the border.

That's up from just six who were stopped in April, the first full month the border was closed to nearly everything but essential travel in a bid by the two countries to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada says 1,390 people in total filed for asylum in Canada in May, and 1,570 did so in April.

Since 2017, nearly 57,000 people have crossed the border between Canada and the U.S. using unofficial entry points so they are able to file for asylum.

The vast majority arrived in Quebec, and as they've awaited a decision on their claims, many found work in health care.

With those positions now essential to the fight against COVID-19, the federal and Quebec governments are considering a program that could see asylum-seekers granted permanent residency.

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