July 21, 2017 / 7:38 PM / 5 months ago

Flow of asylum seekers crossing into Canada from U.S. rises in June

TORONTO (Reuters) - The number of asylum seekers walking across the U.S. border into Canada rose in June after dropping in the previous two months, according to government figures released on Friday.

A boat speeds through the arches of the Peace Bridge, a border crossing between Canada and the United States, on the Niagara River in Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada July 5, 2017. Picture taken July 5, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

There were 884 refugee claimants who crossed the border between formal crossings and were picked up by Royal Canadian Mounted Police last month, bringing the total for the first half of 2017 to 4,345, the data showed.

The vast majority, 88 percent, of June’s crossers went to the province of Quebec, a marked contrast from previous months where upwards of 100 a month went to the prairie province of Manitoba.

Many asylum seekers whom Reuters has spoken to said they left the United States because they feared deportation in light of President Donald Trump’s immigration crackdown.

Once in Canada, they are detained and held for questioning and security screening before being allowed to file refugee claims. However, time spent in the United States may put them at a disadvantage.

The influx of border-crossers is part of a rising number of refugee claimants in Canada, with 2017 on track to have the highest number of claims since at least 2011.

The higher numbers are contributing to worsening delays in refugee hearings.

The Canadian government has resisted calls to stop turning asylum seekers back at land border crossings under the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement, which advocates say is the reason so many are crossing illegally.

Reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny; Editing by Leslie Adler

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