Montrealers gather outside Olympic Stadium to welcome asylum-seekers from U.S.

Montrealers gather outside Olympic Stadium to welcome asylum-seekers from U.S.

MONTREAL — Several hundred people shouted “refugees welcome!” in Creole as they gathered outside Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Sunday to show support for the waves of asylum-seekers crossing the border from the United States.

Members of the group stood on a hill near the entrance to the stadium, waving signs and balloons and chanting messages of welcome.

“We are here with them, to support them and to help them establish themselves,” organizer Serge Bouchereau told the crowd through a megaphone.

“This is a vast, rich country that can welcome many, many people who are in bad situations and can’t stay in their own countries.”

The Olympic Stadium is one of several venues that has been transformed into a temporary shelter to accommodate some of the refugee-claimants, whose numbers have soared in recent weeks.

The City of Montreal says between 250 and 300 people are now crossing the Canada-United States border to seek asylum every day, up from 50 per day in the first half of July.

Many of those crossing the border, like 32-year-old Adline Tidas, are of Haitian descent.

In the United States, the Trump administration is considering ending a program that granted Haitians so-called “temporary protected status” following the massive earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010.

Tidas said she had been living in Ft. Lauderdale since 2009 but left the United States last week because she feared being sent back to her home country.

“The government gave an extension of eight months, and I don’t want to go back to Haiti,” she said in an interview near the stadium.

She said conditions in the shelter were good and she was feeling optimistic about her future.

“(Canada) looks like a good place, I’m supposed to be here,” she said.

“Right now, anything I can do to work, I will do it. But my dream is, I want to be a nurse — to help people because people helped me.”

Several in the crowd said they had come to Canada as immigrants themselves and wanted to show their support for the newcomers.

“I have a standard of living that is very high because this country accepted me, and I wish it for others as well,” said 22-year-old Alexis Audoin, who was born in France.

The event was organized by Solidarity across borders and the Non-status action committee, both of which are calling for open borders and the regularization of undocumented immigrants.

A separate counter-demonstration had been organized to protest the arrival of the asylum-seekers, but organizers announced on Saturday that it had been cancelled.

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