Canada saw a significant spike in the number of asylum-seekers in January and February, putting the country on track to surpass total annual levels for the past five years, according to immigration statistics released Monday.
The first two months of 2017 saw 5,520 applications for refugee status. If that trend continues, officials estimate the year ending with 33,000 refugee claims – 40 percent more than last year.
In addition, one-in-five asylum-seekers were apprehended while illegally crossing into Canada. Nearly half of that group was caught trying to enter Quebec. Most of the remaining people were taken into custody in British Columbia and Manitoba, according to a report on the findings.
The increase could stem from President Trump’s executive actions, which aim at enforcing U.S. immigration laws. Trump has promised to deport all criminal illegal aliens, whereas former President Barack Obama had focused on the most violent of criminal aliens.
Last week, Canada announced more Mexican nationals attempted to enter in the first 67 days of 2017 than in any of the three previous years.
The Canada Border Services Agency detained 444 Mexicans from Jan. 1 to March 8. In 2016, the country detained a total of 410 people, while in 2015 that number was 351 and in 2014 it was 399.
The dramatic upshift comes after Canada’s federal government rescinded its requirement that Mexican citizens have a visa to enter the country. Now, any Mexican citizen who wishes to enter Canada can apply for an Electronic Travel Authorization, which is attainable online. Canada issued more than 72,000 of these authorizations to Mexicans from Dec. 1 to March 10.
The number of Mexicans who were apprehended at airports while trying to enter Canada in January also surpassed the total number of those taken into custody during each year from 2012 to 2014.
The 444 Mexicans who Canadian law enforcement officers detained were held because they either pose a danger to the public, their identity could not be confirmed, or they are not trusted to show up for removal and court proceedings.
This post originally appeared on Washington Examiner