Montreal Uses Olympic Stadium As Temporary Asylum For Refugees From U.S.
Montreal has transformed its Olympic Stadium into a temporary shelter for refugees fleeing the United States in the hopes of finding asylum in Canada.
Montreal Olympic Stadium used as shelter
Most of those who were bused to the stadium Wednesday are Haitians, according to CNN’s news partners CTV and CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation). These immigrants initially fled the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010, and are now concerned about their current immigration status in the U.S. under the administration of President Donald Trump.
A spokesperson for the Regional Program for the Settlement and Integration of Asylum Seekers, aka PRAIDA — the local government agency that helps refugees — told CBC more than 1,000 asylum seekers crossed the border into Quebec in July. “In comparison, PRAIDA helped 180 people in July 2016,” according to the CBC.
The stadium — which was used to host the 1976 Summer Olympics — contains more than 100 cots, as well as blankets and metal dividers set up within its large, concrete walls.
CBC’s Alison Northcott shared a photo of the cots on Twitter:
Montreal’s Olympic Stadium has been transformed into a temporary shelter to help house an influx of asylum seekers to the city pic.twitter.com/tBiuPXcfv3
— Alison Northcott (@AlisonNorthcott) August 2, 2017
“Volunteers from the Quebec Red Cross helped set up the cavernous, concrete stadium for a temporary stay with cots and food in the rotunda,” the Associated Press wire service writes. “The stadium was the main venue of the 1976 Olympics. It has not had a main tenant since the Montreal Expos left in 2004.”
“The city of Montreal welcomes Haitian refugees. You can count on our complete support,” Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre wrote on Twitter.
“Yet another consequence of Donald Trump’s immigration policy. #HaitianRefugees,” Coderre added in a separate tweet.
The venue will host up to 450 people for several months, but cannot serve as a permanent shelter due to the schedule of events set to be held at the stadium, the AP reports.
Trump announced on Wednesday that he planned to unveil a new immigration plan entitled the RAISE (Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment) Act. This merit-based plan would only allow highly-educated and skilled workers to enter the U.S. rather than permit any immigrant who simply has family ties to the country. Experts have heavily criticized the plan, saying it would severely hurt the American economy — which gains much from low-skilled immigrant workers — by reducing immigration by up to 50 percent.
More than 4,000 people have been intercepted as they crossed into Canada this year, according to government data. Of the 4,345 crossings, 3,350 were into Quebec.
Montreal boasts a large Haitian community, which could also be a major reason for the massive influx of migrants from the country.
Haiti is still grappling with several issues, including a persistent cholera epidemic, a disastrous sewage system, and a deadly hurricane.
MONTREAL, QC – JUNE 30: General view of the Olympic Stadium prior to the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup semi final match between the United States and Germany on June 30, 2015 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The United States defeated Germany 2-0 and move to the final round. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
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