Canada has tightened its migrations rules against Nigerians, in a bid to curb the number of asylum seekers flooding into their country via the United States.
About 2,500 migrants, mostly Nigerian nationals, entered Canada illegally in April, bringing the total so far this year to more than 7,300.
Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, who disclosed that they crossed on foot along a forest trail from New York state to Quebec province, said he will travel to Nigeria in the coming days to press the issue.
At Ottawa’s request, US authorities have also recently tightened their visa rules for Nigerians to try to prevent tourists from flying to the US and then hopping across the border to file Canadian refugee claims.
An average of 70-80 migrants per day have been making the trip of late, said Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale.
Nearly 21,000 border jumpers were intercepted by federal police in 2017 and allowed to file a refugee claim.
“Just over 90 percent of irregular migrants do not meet our criteria (for asylum) and they will have to leave Canada,” Garneau said, adding that 200 currently face imminent deportation after their refugee claims were rejected.
The first arrivals in 2016 were mostly Haitians who faced repatriation at the end of US temporary special protections granted after storms battered their desperately poor island nation.
But the wave expanded last year to also include Djiboutian, Eritrean, Nigerian, Pakistani, Sudanese, Syrian, Turkish and Yemeni nationals, among others.
The border jumping started with the election of US President Donald Trump, who promised to expel more than 11 million undocumented migrants.