Asylum: More Nigerians with valid US visas cross into Quebec

Nigerians with valid US visas have crossed into the province of Quebec in Canada illegally

Canada’s government has said more Nigerians with valid US visas are crossing into the country illegally with most of them heading for the province of Quebec.

Canada says these asylum-seekers are using the United States as a transit point.

The government has pledged to help the province of Quebec cope with a growing influx of asylum seekers crossing from the United States, as the province is reaching “saturation point.”

The Canadian government has hinted that it is now in touch with the US over the crossings.

The federal government said this week it will review a breakdown of costs Quebec has incurred as thousands of refugee claimants arrive in need of housing and social support.

Canada also said it will work to divert newcomers away from Montreal, Quebec’s largest city, to regions better equipped to welcome them.

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“Quebec’ resources are at a saturation point,” Quebec Immigration Minister David Heurtel told reporters this week.

Federal and provincial officials met on Wednesday, and federal ministers said afterward they would take steps to help the province.

More than 26,000 people have crossed the Canada-US border illegally to file refugee claims in Canada in the past 15 months – a dramatic departure from previous years, when so few crossed the government didn’t keep track.

The influx has strained Canada’s refugee system, worsening backlogs in refugee tribunals and sending aid agencies scrambling.

The number of border-crossers peaked at 5,712 in August, 2017 and dropped to about 2,000 a month over the winter but has picked up again, with Canadian police intercepting 6,373 in the first 3-1/2 months of 2018.

The vast majority of these refugee claimants crossed into the primarily French-speaking province of Quebec, where the influx sparked political tensions in an election year and backlash from anti-immigrant groups.

But while the federal government pledged to ease the pressure on Quebec, it has yet to find places to send people. Toronto, Canada’s largest city, has also been stretched by a refugee claimant influx.

The government must also determine how refugee claimants will travel, and asylum seekers would have to be willing. “We can’t tell people where to go,” said Mathieu Genest, a spokesman for federal Immigration and Refugees Minister Ahmed Hussen.

Heurtel said the steps were in the right direction.

Canadian officials have been in touch with their US counterparts about this, Genest said.

“If someone is using the U. as a conduit to get to Canada it means that they are not using the visa for what the visa’s intended for.”

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