New Brunswick spike saw almost two dozen refugee claimants in 2016
FREDERICTON — The number of refugee claimants crossing into New Brunswick from the United States saw a significant increase last year.
According to figures released by the Canadian Border Services Agency, there were 23 refugee claimants at the border in 2016 — more than the previous four years combined.
The numbers include those seeking asylum at official points of entry, and those stopped by police after crossing in remote locations.
There were seven refugee claimants in each year between 2011 and 2013, four in 2014 and only two in 2015.
According to the border agency, there was one refugee claimant at the New Brunswick border last month.
A growing number of people are choosing to walk across the border into Canada to claim refugee status, including dozens who have been arrested in the Emerson area of Manitoba in recent weeks. Other provinces including Quebec have also seen a large rise in the number of refugee claimants who enter the province illegally.
The tactic is a way to avoid the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement, which prevents most people who have been living in the United States from making a refugee claim at an official border crossing on the premise that they are already somewhere safe.
This has prompted some people to cross elsewhere in order to make their claims from within Canada, where authorities generally grant them a hearing.