Asy­lum-seek­ing ar­rivals in Man­i­toba not yet ‘a trend’

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD -

Canada’s im­mi­gra­tion min­is­ter says he’s not yet con­vinced a re­cent in­crease in the num­ber of asy­lum seek­ers cross­ing the bor­der il­le­gally from the United States con­sti­tutes a grow­ing trend, de­spite con­cerns raised by Man­i­toba that the sit­u­a­tion may be get­ting out of hand.

In the days and weeks that fol­lowed a move by U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump to ban trav­ellers from seven Mus­lim-ma­jor­ity en­ter­ing the U.S., Canada has seen an in­crease in the num­ber of refugee claimants walk­ing across the bor­der to re­quest asy­lum.

Man­i­toba Premier Brian Pal­lis­ter has ex­pressed wor­ries that those num­bers could rise fur­ther as the weather be­comes warmer, and has called on Ot­tawa to pro­vide more help in deal­ing with the in­flux.

For now, Ot­tawa is mon­i­tor­ing the sit­u­a­tion but it’s still too early to say whether even more asy­lum seek­ers will con­tinue walk­ing over Canada’s doorstep, Im­mi­gra­tion Min­is­ter Ahmed Hussen said in an in­ter­view aired Sun­day on CTV’s Ques­tion Pe­riod.

“We need to see what hap­pens over the next lit­tle while to see if this is a trend,” Hussen said.

“We can’t re­ally de­ter­mine that this is a trend mov­ing for­ward.”

More than 20 peo­ple were in­ter­cepted while cross­ing the bor­der il­le­gally near Emer­son, Man., over the week­end two weeks ago.

Fewer than a dozen were found this week­end, ac­cord­ing to Emer­son-Franklin Reeve Greg Janzen, although he sus­pected the drop might have to do with a plunge in the mer­cury.

“I haven’t heard of any big groups com­ing across and I’m won­der­ing if maybe it’s the weather, be­cause I know they’re still com­ing,” Janzen said Sun­day, not­ing the tem­per­a­ture in the area Satur­day night dipped to about –14 C.

RCMP in Sur­rey, B.C., said that a man and a woman who were ten­ta­tively iden­ti­fied as Turk­ish na­tion­als were ar­rested and turned over to im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials af­ter they crossed the bor­der and en­tered Canada with­out re­port­ing to a port of en­try.

The RCMP, the Canada Bor­der Ser­vices Agency and pub­lic safety of­fi­cials are an­a­lyz­ing the in­flux, added Pub­lic Safety Min­is­ter Ralph Goodale.

He said most of the asy­lum seek­ers in­tended to even­tu­ally end up in Canada, rather than the U.S.

“The vast ma­jor­ity ... are ac­tu­ally tran­sit­ing through the United States,” Goodale said in an in­ter­view on Global TV’s The West Block.

“Their plan was not orig­i­nally to be in the United States but to come through the United States.”

But the min­is­ter couldn’t say why peo­ple are choos­ing to cross il­le­gally from the U.S. if their goal was al­ways to end up on Cana­dian soil or else­where.

Un­der the Safe Third Coun­try Agree­ment be­tween Canada and the U.S., refugee claimants in one coun­try can’t make the same claim on the other side of the bor­der.

But that only ap­plies when they make claims at of­fi­cial bor­der cross­ings.

If asy­lum seek­ers reach Cana­dian ter­ri­tory, they are en­ti­tled to go through a claims process af­ter be­ing ar­rested be­cause Canada is a sig­na­tory of the UN Refugee Con­ven­tion.

Should their claim be re­jected, they could be re­turned to their coun­try of cit­i­zen­ship.

JOHN WOODS, THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Mi­grants from So­ma­lia cross into Canada from the United States by walk­ing down a train track early Sun­day into the town of Emer­son, Man­i­toba, where they sought asy­lum at the Canada Bor­der Ser­vices Agency.

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