The province of Quebec is bolstering funding to community groups that help migrants amid a sharp increase of asylum claimants entering Canada through the unofficial border crossing at Roxham Road.
The announcement happened as New York City's mayor revealed his administration provided bus tickets to migrants wanting to leave the city, including those travelling north of the border.
As reported by the New York Post, some migrants in the Big Apple are receiving complimentary tickets to Plattsburgh, NY, where they then travel about half an hour by shuttle or taxi to cross into Quebec at Roxham Road.
Quebec's Immigration Minister Christine Fréchette said the uptick in illegal immigration — as highlighted by the departure in New York — underscores the need for Ottawa to resolve the predicament at Roxham Road.
Fréchette and the Minister of Social Solidarity and Community Action, Chantal Rouleau, announced $3.5 million in funding for dozens of groups helping to provide shelter, food and clothing to newcomers after receiving a call for assistance from community organizations.
"Right now, in Quebec, the resources devoted to immigrants and the most vulnerable people are stretched to the limit," said Fréchette. "The large number of people entering Quebec through Roxham Road is contributing to this overload."
Word has spread among the migrant community that Canada — where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau touted the country as a "proud and longstanding tradition of welcoming people seeking safety" — is the place to go.
Venezuelan native Raymond Peña and his family arrived at a gas station bus stop in Plattsburgh, NY — about 20 miles south of the Canadian border — at 4 am Sunday.
"The [US] military gave my family and I free bus tickets," said Peña. "I am going to Canada for a better quality of life for my family."
Another Venezuelan native, Manuel Rodon, 26, also left New York after getting "kicked out" of the Row NYC hotel near Times Square and relocated to a homeless shelter in Brooklyn.
Rodon described the shelter as "OK" except for the American residents.
In October 2022, New York mayor Eric Adams declared a state of emergency as the influx of thousands of migrants overwhelmed homeless shelters across the city.
"A lot of the Americans used drugs there," said Rodon. "I feel like Canada will be safer. It is a much quieter country than America."
In 2022, approximately 60,000 illegal immigrants arrived in Quebec — more than double the annual number before the pandemic. Fréchette called it an "unprecedented situation" for the province.
New York Mayor Eric Adams told Fox 5 Monday morning that his administration is "reticketing" people who arrive in the city but want to go elsewhere. He clarified that the city does not force people to leave.
According to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada data, the RCMP intercepted 34,478 asylum seekers who did not use official ports of entry to Quebec between January and November of 2022, compared to 316 elsewhere in Canada.
The opposition Parti Québécois tabled a motion in the province's National Assembly last week calling on the government to shut down Roxham Road with police help if necessary.
Canada's federal opposition parties have repeatedly called for a review of the Safe Third Country Agreement with the US — a controversial pact mandating border agents turn away asylum seekers from the other if they present themselves at official land border crossings.
Quebec's Premier François Legault has asked the federal government to permanently close the entry point, a sentiment echoed by the Bloc Québécois and, more recently, by Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre.
But anxiety about the situation has been sharpest in Quebec, as it received most asylum seekers.
The Immigration Department clarified that housing asylum seekers are in provincial jurisdiction; therefore, it must provide social services for arrivals while the federal government evaluates the legality of their claims.
A Léger poll last May showed that 60% of Quebecers wanted Roxham Road closed. A separate poll by Justice pour le Québec (Justice for Quebec) found that 68% of Quebecers strongly or moderately agree with that position.