Canada ramps up deportations amid growing migrant influx

TORONTO, Aug 24 (Reuters) - As an influx of asylum seekers crossing from the United States strains Canada's immigration system, the country is ramping up its deportation of migrants, government data shows.

Deportations of Mexicans, who have flocked to Canada in growing numbers after a visa requirement was lifted in December, was already 66 percent higher in the first eight months of 2017 than the total from the previous year.

Deportations of Haitians, thousands of whom have crossed into Canada illegally in the hopes of avoiding deportation from the United States, have also soared. Canada has deported 474 so far this year, compared to 100 for all of 2016 when the government lifted its own ban on deportations to Haiti, in place since a devastating 2010 earthquake.

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Canada refugee camp swells from New York border crossers
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Canada refugee camp swells from New York border crossers
A Haitian refugee sticks his head out of the window from a tent set up from Canadian Armed Forces near the border in Lacolle, Quebec, August 10, 2017. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi
A refugee rests in tents set up by the Canadian Armed Forces near the border in Lacolle, Quebec, Canada August 10, 2017. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi
Members of the Canadian Armed Forces carry cots to the newly erected tents they assembled to help deal with the influx of asylum seekers near the border in Lacolle, Quebec, Canada August 10, 2017. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi
Refugees stand outside one of the tents set up to house the influx of asylum seekers by the Canadian Armed Forces near the border in Lacolle, Quebec, Canada, August 10, 2017. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi
Refugees stand outside one of the tents set up to house the influx of asylum seekers by the Canadian Armed Forces near the border in Lacolle, Quebec, Canada August 10, 2017. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi
Members of the Canadian Armed Forces carry cots to the newly erected tents they assembled to help deal with the influx of asylum seekers near the border in Lacolle, Quebec, Canada August 10, 2017. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi
Members of the Canadian Armed Forces carry cots to the newly erected tents they assembled to help deal with the influx of asylum seekers near the border in Lacolle, Quebec, Canada August 10, 2017. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi
Refugees sit outside one of the tents set up to house the influx of asylum seekers by the Canadian Armed Forces near the border in Lacolle, Quebec, Canada August 10, 2017. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi
Members of the Canadian Armed Forces carry cots to the newly erected tents they assembled to help deal with the influx of asylum seekers near the border in Lacolle, Quebec, Canada August 10, 2017. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi
A refugee stands inside one of the tents set up to house the influx of asylum seekers by the Canadian Armed Forces near the border in Lacolle, Quebec, Canada August 10, 2017. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi
A Haitian refugee walks from his tent, one of the many set up by the Canadian Armed Forces to deal with the influx of asylum seekers at border in Lacolle, Quebec, Canada August 10, 2017. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi
Refugees stand outside one of the tents set up to house the influx of asylum seekers by the Canadian Armed Forces near the border in Lacolle, Quebec, Canada August 10, 2017. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi
Members of the Canadian Armed Forces walk past tents they erected to house asylum seekers at the Canada-United States border in Lacolle, Quebec, August 9, 2017. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi
Members of the Canadian Armed Forces rest after erecting tents to house asylum seekers at the Canada-United States border in Lacolle, Quebec, August 9, 2017. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi
Members of the Canadian Armed Forces install electricity for the tents erected to house asylum seekers at the Canada-United States border in Lacolle, Quebec, August 9, 2017. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi
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Overall, 5,529 people have been deported as of Tuesday, compared to 7,357 for all of 2016, the data shows.

Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board has called a rise in asylum-seekers through the U.S. border "unsustainable," and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government, fretting about another big surge in asylum claims, has been trying to warn people away.

At the same time, Canada said this week it will be granting border-crossing asylum seekers swifter access to healthcare. They will also be eligible for work permits sooner.

Refugee claimants are eligible for health coverage and work permits once their claims are processed, but that can take weeks or months.

More than 10,000 asylum seekers have walked across the U.S. border into Canada to file refugee claims so far this year, including 3,800 into Quebec in the first two weeks of August alone, authorities have said.

Canada is on track to record the most refugee claims in a decade.

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Migrants fleeing to Canada from Minnesota
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Migrants fleeing to Canada from Minnesota
A group of migrants who said they were from Djibouti and Somalia follow railway tracks towards the Canada-U.S. border as seen from Emerson, Manitoba, Canada, March 27, 2017. Picture taken March 27, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Wattie TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) vehicle approaches as a migrant stands on a residential street after crossing the Canada-U.S. border in Emerson, Manitoba, Canada, March 27, 2017. Picture taken March 27, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Wattie
A group of migrants who said they were from Djibouti and Somalia walk along railway tracks after crossing the Canada-U.S. border in Emerson, Manitoba, Canada, March 27, 2017. Picture taken March 27, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Wattie TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A road sign pointing to Emerson, Manitoba, Canada, near the Canada-U.S. border, March 24, 2017. Picture taken March 24, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Wattie
Deer graze along railway tracks near the Canada-U.S. border in Emerson, Manitoba, Canada, March 26, 2017. Picture taken March 26, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Wattie
A sign is seen on a fence on the U.S. side of the former Canada-U.S. border crossing in Noyes, Minnesota, U.S., March 28, 2017. Picture taken March 28, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Wattie
A Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officer waits in a van near railway tracks on the Canadian side of the Canada-U.S. border in Emerson, Manitoba, Canada, March 25, 2017. Picture taken March 25, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Wattie
Fog blankets the area near railway tracks on the Canadian side of the Canada-U.S. border in Emerson, Manitoba, Canada, March 27, 2017. Picture taken March 27, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Wattie
A train crosses the Canada-U.S. border in Emerson, Manitoba, Canada, March 25, 2017. Picture taken March 25, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Wattie
An international boundary marker is seen on the U.S. side of the Canada-U.S. border in Noyes, Minnesota, U.S., March 28, 2017. Picture taken March 28, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Wattie
A scarf lies on the ground on the U.S. side of the Canada-U.S. border near the former border crossing in Noyes, Minnesota, U.S., March 28, 2017. Picture taken March 28, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Wattie
A child's bottle lies on the ground on the U.S. side of the Canada-U.S. border near the former border crossing in Noyes, Minnesota, U.S., March 28, 2017. Picture taken March 28, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Wattie
A ski mask lies on the ground on the U.S. side of the Canada-U.S. border near the former border crossing in Noyes, Minnesota, U.S., March 28, 2017. Picture taken March 28, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Wattie
A group of migrants who said they were from Djibouti and Somalia walk along a residential street after crossing the Canada-U.S. border in Emerson, Manitoba, Canada, March 27, 2017. Picture taken March 27, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Wattie
A group of migrants who said they were from Djibouti and Somalia place their belongings in a Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) vehicle after crossing the Canada-U.S. border in Emerson, Manitoba, Canada, March 27, 2017. Picture taken March 27, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Wattie
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(Reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny, editing by G Crosse)

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