Canada: Safe haven?

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Migrants Seeking Asylum Through The U.S. – Canada Border

Anagabriel Trevino
News Editor

Ever since President Donald Trump’s executive order to ban travelers from seven Muslim majority countries, and even after it was overturned, there has been a lot activity at the U.S./Canada border. Namely, it has been crossed illegally by immigrants seeking asylum in Canada.

To be clear, the President’s executive order is not the event that drove immigrants to the northern border. Yet according to CTV News, Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and the ever increasing efforts to round up immigrants are making many of them uneasy.

In the province of Manitoba, at the Emerson border, there have been quite a few crossings. Twenty two people arrived last Sunday (February 19th) alone.

Greg Janzen, the president of the Emerson-Franklin Counsel, said: “At least the weather wasn’t as cold as it has been, so they picked a good night I believe”.

The Emerson fire department spokesperson, Jay Ihme, equally unfazed, said that there have been so many in recent months, it’s become a commonplace.

In the province of Quebec, a group of eight asylum seekers reached the border last Friday (February 17th). By all accounts they were four adults and four children. Their origin however is unclear, as they have been identified as Somalian by Canadian Press, but Reuters reported that they are Sudanese. They crossed the Hemmingford (QC), Champlain (NY) border about an hour away from John Abbott College (Huffington Post).

One of the men in the group was captured crossing the border by a Canadian Press reporter, Paul Chiasson. The photos show the man in question tossing his family’s luggage over the border while he was being questioned by a U.S. Border Patrol agent, before taking his and his family’s documentation from the agent and dashing across the border. He and the rest of the group are currently under the custody of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

It isn’t yet known if they have made a claim to become refugees, but if they do, they will have to go through an assessment process.

The Canadian provinces and territory that have received the most asylum seekers are: Manitoba, British Columbia, the Yukon and Quebec.

The number of crossings of asylum seekers traveling to Canada from the U.S. border has gone up from 4,407 in 2015 to 7,022 in 2016 (land borders). Quebec and Manitoba have been the provinces with the largest increases (CTV News). At least 82 people have been reported to have illegally crossed into Manitoba since the beginning of 2017 (CTV News).

The Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) told the Huffington Post that over 450 people have crossed and claimed refugee status in Quebec, in January alone.

These people may have all reached the border, but they are not yet refugees. Their situation is further complicated by the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement. It states that people seeking refugee protection must make a claim in the first country they arrive in whether it’s United States or Canada. No one yet know how this will affect the newly arrived.

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