Hamilton

Hamilton taking 50 asylum-seeking families from Toronto, many here via the U.S.

Hamilton is taking 50 families of refugee claimants and asylum seekers, many from the U.S., after Toronto put out a call for help for other cities who can take them.

The families will arrive in Hamilton starting Aug. 7, the city said in a media release

A group of asylum seekers arrive at the temporary housing facilities at the border crossing Wednesday May 9, 2018 in St. Bernard-de-Lacolle, Que. Hamilton is taking about 50 families from Toronto. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

Hamilton is taking 50 families of refugee claimants and asylum seekers, many from the U.S., after Toronto put out a call for help for other cities who can take them.

The families will arrive in Hamilton starting Aug. 7, the city said in a media release.

The cities of Toronto and Hamilton will work with a local agency to temporarily house the families — likely in hotels. The City of Toronto will foot the bill, said Mayor Fred Eisenberger.

"This is not costing local taxpayers any money. We're being helpful and assisting in terms of finding space."

Hamilton is "a welcoming community," he said, "and we are ready to help whenever possible."

Toronto put out a call for help from other cities in June, saying it had seen a spike in migrants.

Mayor John Tory said in a letter to MPs that more than 3,000 refugee claimants and asylum seekers are being housed in Toronto's shelters and hotels. Some are by way of the U.S.

"We simply can no longer contend with their housing needs alone," Tory wrote.

About 800 are staying in two college dormitories, a temporary solution until students return to school.

Some cities said they couldn't take any asylum seekers because they were strapped for resources too. The federal government gave Toronto about $11 million to help with its costs.

CBC News reports that RCMP officers stopped 3,134 people in July 2017 and 5,712 people in August 2017 coming from the U.S. to Canada. That's when the flow of asylum seekers was at its height.

Numbers released earlier this month show the number of people intercepted by the RCMP decreased significantly last month, with 1,263 entering the country outside official border points compared to 1,869 in May.

First Newcomer Day

Hamilton's announcement came as the city was celebrating its first-ever Newcomer Day.

Hamilton celebrated its first-ever Newcomer Day Friday. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

The day-long event celebrating diversity included a citizenship ceremony where 40 new Hamilton residents hailing from 15 countries across the world became Canadians.

Dancing, food and a Canadian Challenge quiz rounded out the activities on offer.

The day-long event at city hall included food and dancing. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

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