September 19, 2017 12:54 pm
Updated: September 19, 2017 1:13 pm

Over 5,500 asylum seekers crossed Quebec border illegally in August

A Haitian boy holds onto his father as they approach an illegally crossing point, staffed by Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers, from Champlain, N.Y., to Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Quebec, Monday, Aug. 7, 2017.

AP Photo/Charles Krupa
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Quebec bore the brunt of a major upswing in irregular border crossings during the month of August, new numbers have confirmed, with 5,530 people intercepted by the RCMP as they attempted to enter Canada via that province.

That number represents a full 42 per cent of the total number of irregular crossings across Canada since the start of the year, and 90 per cent of all the crossings recorded across Canada in August.

Quebec’s total for the previous month, July, had been just under 3,000 crossings.

The province with the second highest tally for August was British Columbia, with a mere 102 interceptions. There were another 80 in Manitoba, but no other province counted even one, according to updated totals provided Tuesday by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

WATCH: Border officials brace for another spike in asylum seekers crossing into Canada


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Immigration officials had previously disclosed that the total number of irregular crossings in Quebec for 2017 was sitting at about 12,000. But it was unclear just how many of those crossings had occurred in August when people began streaming over the border by the hundreds at the height of the summer.

The union representing border guards has said border officers were overwhelmed by the sheer numbers, and that screening of the new arrivals suffered as a result.

READ MORE: CBSA union outraged over delay in notice from Health Canada on asylum seekers

The government, meanwhile, has acknowledged that there was a significant spike in irregular crossings but maintained that it had the situation under control. Since then, it has taken steps to reach out to diaspora communities in the U.S. to make it clear that there is a process in place for entering Canada legally and claiming asylum.

While there have been previous spikes in asylum claims over the past three decades, the number of people seeking refuge in Canada in 2017 remains quite high. Between January and August, the Canada Border Services Agency and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada together processed 27,440 claimants. The total for all of 2016 was 23,925.

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