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Canada opens up Montreal Olympic Stadium as refuge for people fleeing US


Canada opens up Montreal Olympic Stadium as refuge for people fleeing US

The doors of Montreal’s Olympic Stadium have been flung open to refugees crossing from the US into Canada in fear of Donald Trump’s immigration crackdown.

Aid workers and local health authorities opened the 56,000-seat arena on Wednesday as Montreal mayor Denis Coderre welcomed the newcomers on Twitter.

Built for the 1976 Olympics, the huge sports ground is more often used these days for large-scale concerts, rallies, and football games.

But as an influx in refugee claimants continues to grow, the city is scrambling to provide them with beds, and officials came up with the idea of using the landmark as a temporary welcome centre.

“The town of Montreal welcomes Haitian refugees,” wrote Mr Coderre. “You can count on us for our full cooperation.”

Montreal’s health authority has declined to say exactly how many people are being housed in the stadium.

But more than 4,300 people have walked across the US border into Canada this year seeking refugee status, according to official figures, many in fear of Mr Trump’s notorious anti-immigrant policies.

Some enter the country through remote border crossings with little surveillance, with the vast majority heading to Quebec.

Those caught crossing the border illegally are stopped and held for questioning by police and border officials before being allowed to file for asylum and live in Canada pending the claim.

2,500 people arrived in July alone.

Mr Coderre has written that providing for the men, women and children is a “humanitarian gesture.”


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