08/03/2017 04:03 pm ET

Canada Is Using An Olympic Stadium To House Influx Of U.S. Asylum-Seekers

Many are Haitians displaced by the 2010 earthquake, fearing the Trump administration will deport them.

So many people are fleeing the United States into Canada that Quebec has begun temporarily housing them in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium.

The first asylum seekers to be housed in the dome were shuttled by bus to the stadium on Wednesday, CBC reports. The group included children and pregnant women.

Canadian Press
A group of asylum seekers leave Olympic Stadium to go for a walk, in Montreal on Wednesday, August 2, 2017.

As many as 450 cots have been set up in the windowless dome for those seeking asylum in Canada. Food and showers will be provided, and people will be allowed to stay until they receive government assistance and find shelter elsewhere, CTV reports.

“We’ve never seen this before,” Francine Dupuis, spokeswoman for Regional Program for the Settlement and Integration of Asylum Seekers, a Quebec-funded program, told CBC. “It’s really quite a bit more intense than what we’re used to.”

Dupuis told The Associated Press her organization helped 448 people in June and 1,174 in July, far more than usual.

Christinne Muschi / Reuters
A group of Haitian asylum seekers sit with shopping bags outside the Olympic Stadium, which is being used for temporary housing for asylum seekers, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada August 2, 2017.

Many of those fleeing the U.S. are Haitians who fear they will be deported under President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, according to CTV.

Roughly 58,700 Haitians have been living in the U.S. under an Obama-era policy that granted them temporary protected status after Haiti’s devastating earthquake in 2010. Trump’s former homeland security secretary, John F. Kelly, extended that protected status until January 2018. But officials say the policy is unlikely to be extended again.

Christinne Muschi / Reuters
A family gets out of a taxi at Olympic Stadium, which is being used as temporary housing for asylum seekers, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada August 2, 2017. 

Montreal has a large Haitian population, which Dupuis said may be an appeal for many asylum-seekers.

“Obviously, there is a stronger attraction to coming to Quebec for Haitians than in other provinces,” Dupuis told CBC. “They have the help of their community to get settled.”


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