Ryan Remiorz / The Canadian Press via AP
The Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League are currently practicing at the Olympic Stadium, but they play their home games in another stadium, so they do not present a conflict with the refugee housing, said the spokesman, Essiminy.
While many of the newcomers are from Haiti, others are Palestinian, Somalian and from other countries. Most came to Canada by crossing the international border away from major roads and official ports of entry, because a pact between the U.S. and Canada would require that they be turned back to the U.S., if they arrived via those official border crossings.
The Safe Third Country agreement says that both the U.S. and Canada are considered safe harbors and refugee applicants who arrive in one nation first are supposed to be denied admission to the other, if they try to move on. But that rule is waived for those who dodge formal border checkpoints and find another way into Canada, according to Paul Clarke, executive director of Action Réfugiés Montreal, a non-profit that serves immigrants.
Clarke said the influx of Haitians and others has increased as Trump has continued to send less-than-welcoming signals to immigrants.
“It’s like you have escaped one fire in your home country and now you have arrived somewhere else, in the U.S., where you might not quite feel safe,” said Clarke. “So you move on to what seems to be the next safe haven, Canada. That is the metaphor for what we are hearing from some of these people.”
The immigrants ultimate fate is yet to be decided. To must have their refugee status affirmed to remain in Canada for the long term and that means proving they were subjected to racial, religious or political discrimination in their homelands.
In the meantime, a citizens have been reaching out to his agency, Clarke said. The Canadians are asking what they can do to help smooth the path for the immigrants.