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An RCMP officer keeps watch for illegal crossings at the border from New York into Canada on Monday, March 6, 2017 in Hemmingford, Que.Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

December brought a rise in the number of asylum seekers apprehended between formal entry points at the Canada-U.S. border.

New figures from the federal government show 1,978 people were stopped by the RCMP, up from 1,623 the month before.

The majority were stopped in Quebec, with others in Manitoba and British Columbia.

The December crossings still pale in comparison to a spike of over 5,000 people stopped in Quebec alone in August.

But, the figures make December the third-busiest month for illegal border crossings in 2017, despite months of work by the federal government to stop the flow.

Asylum claims were also up, however, at official border crossings, with increases at both airports and land entry points.

Altogether, over 49,000 claims for asylum were filed in 2017, the statistics show.

The last time more than 40,000 claims were filed in Canada in a single year was 2001.

Liberal MPs are going back to the U.S. as part of the federal government’s efforts to dissuade new waves of asylum seekers from coming to Canada’s border. MP Pablo Rodriguez says he will engage with Central American communities in Texas.

The Canadian Press