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The sun sets on the St. John River in Fredericton on April 17, 2014.ANDREW VAUGHAN/The Canadian Press

The mayor of Fredericton says he would like the city become a sanctuary city by opening its doors to people seeking refuge in Canada.

Mayor Mike O'Brien says it would mean the city would be open to any refugee that doesn't have citizenship status.

However, he says it might make more sense for the province to be declared a sanctuary province since it would bear many of the responsibilities for caring for refugees, like education and health care.

The number of refugee claimants that illegally crossed into the province from the United States increased significantly last year, with 23 at the border in 2016.

Crossings are increasing at an alarming rate across Canada, with Quebec and Manitoba the most popular crossing points for dozens of people who have made the trek into those provinces by foot.

Declaring itself a sanctuary city means Fredericton would welcome any asylum seeker without persecution, even if they are an illegal immigrant.