Man­i­toba premier wants ac­tion on bor­der jumpers

Cape Breton Post - - CANADA -

Man­i­toba’s premier says the fed­eral gov­ern­ment needs to stop talk­ing and take ac­tion on an in­flux of peo­ple who have jumped the bor­der from the U.S. to seek asy­lum in Canada.

“I don’t want this to be taken as a crit­i­cism of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment. I see an op­por­tu­nity here for the fed­eral gov­ern­ment that they are not yet purs­ing to im­prove the way we do things and help make sure we are ad­dress­ing a sit­u­a­tion that some would fear is get­ting some­what out of hand,” Brian Pal­lis­ter said Thurs­day.

“So I would en­cour­age, again, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to move beyond the talk­ing points of us hav­ing had a worse prob­lem 15 years ago and rec­og­nize there is a chal­lenge to­day. We need to face the chal­lenges of to­day to­gether.”

The Tory premier made the com­ments as he an­nounced more aid for refugee claimants in Man­i­toba: 14 new emer­gency hous­ing units, $110,000 for para­le­gal and other ser­vices and $70,000 for a co-or­di­na­tor to sup­port claimants.

The prov­ince is also mov­ing paramedics to the bor­der near the mu­nic­i­pal­ity of Emer­son­Franklin to help lo­cal emer­gency crews deal with peo­ple who make the frigid walk into Canada.

The an­nounce­ment was wel­comed by the com­mu­nity’s reeve, Greg Janzen, who said emer­gency re­sponse to mi­grants cross­ing the bor­der in the cold can strain re­sources in the sprawl­ing ru­ral area.

“For in­stance, two week­ends ago, there were two med­i­cal calls (for mi­grants), so we had two am­bu­lances sit­ting at the bor­der. And ... when that hap­pens ... then the whole south­cen­tral area (of Man­i­toba) is short two am­bu­lances,” Janzen said.

“If there’s a traf­fic ac­ci­dent out in Plum Coulee (50 kilo­me­tres away) and all the am­bu­lances are sit­ting at the bor­der, some­body’s not get­ting ser­vice.”

Pal­lis­ter re­it­er­ated his be­lief that an in­flux of refugee claimants com­ing from the United States is a na­tional is­sue that needs a na­tional plan.

That plan, he said, would in­volve bet­ter in­for­ma­tion shar­ing and bet­ter co-or­di­na­tion of re­sources. He would not be more spe­cific or pro­vide de­tails of a let­ter he is writ­ing to the prime min­is­ter.

The num­ber of peo­ple flee­ing the United States, largely from African coun­tries orig­i­nally, has jumped in re­cent weeks af­ter planned crack­downs on im­mi­gra­tion in the U.S. The refugees have been cross­ing fields and ditches near bor­der com­mu­ni­ties such as Emer­son-Franklin, Man., and Hem­ming­ford, Que.

The tac­tic is a way to get around the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Coun­try Agree­ment, which re­quires any­one who has al­ready ap­plied for refugee sta­tus in the U.S. to be turned away at an of­fi­cial bor­der cross­ing in Canada. How­ever, if some­one crosses some­where else and gets ap­pre­hended on Cana­dian soil, he or she can make a refugee claim and the case is heard by Cana­dian au­thor­i­ties.

Some im­mi­gra­tion lawyers and politi­cians want Canada to change the agree­ment so that peo­ple can turn them­selves in at of­fi­cial bor­der cross­ings and still get their refugee claim heard.

Ot­tawa has so far re­sisted those calls.

Fed­eral Im­mi­gra­tion Min­is­ter Ahmed Hussen said ear­lier this week that he sees no need to change the agree­ment, be­cause the United States is still liv­ing up to its in­ter­na­tional obli­ga­tions in deal­ing with asy­lum-seek­ers.


An asy­lum claimant claim­ing to be from Turkey is hand­cuffed af­ter cross­ing the bor­der into Canada from the United States Thurs­day near Hem­ming­ford, Que. A grow­ing num­ber of peo­ple have been walk­ing across the bor­der into Canada to claim refugee sta­tus, es­pe­cially in Que­bec and Man­i­toba.

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