In what some might call a 'win' for President Trump, Canadian immigration officials warn they are experiencing a "big surge [of refugees] coming across the border" with many of them proclaiming their distrust and fear of President Trump.
Sherali and Sarah Shah took in three asylum seekers who had been trying to get into Canada through the Emerson, Man., border Tuesday.
In the first official report of a group of "asylum seekers" who are malcontent refugees in the U.S. trying to become refugees in Canada being apprehended, U.S. border security guards and a local sheriff caught three Somali nationals trying to sneak across an open stretch of the U.S.-Canada border on Tuesday, according to CBC News.
Kris Grogan, a public affairs officer for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said border officials on the U.S. side are becoming increasingly worried about asylum seekers trying to get into Canada.
"It is extremely dangerous to be putting yourself out into these elements where you could end up dying," he said.
As CBC News first reported in January, hundreds of asylum seekers have walked into Canada through fields near the Emerson border.
The issue came into the spotlight after two refugees from Ghana were hospitalized in Winnipeg after suffering frostbite on Christmas Eve while lost on Highway 75, near the Canada-U.S. border.
The refugees were so badly frostbitten, they lost fingers and toes. Since the story of the two men became public, dozens of other asylum seekers, including a mother and two-year-old child, have crossed into Manitoba.
As AFP reports, Farhan Ahmed hoped to find refuge in the United States after fleeing death threats in Somalia, but fear over a US crackdown on immigration sent him on another perilous journey -- to Canada.
The 36-year-old was among nearly two dozen asylum seekers who braved bone-chilling cold on a February weekend to walk across the border, trudging through snow-covered prairies in the dead of night to make a claim in this country.
It was a record number of arrivals for a single weekend in the small border town of Emerson, and Canadian officials said Thursday they are bracing for more.
An agreement with the US prevents asylum seekers from lodging claims in Canada if they first landed stateside, but it only applies to arrivals at border checkpoints, airports and train stations.
Rita Chahal, executive director of the Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council, described a "big surge coming across the border." According to Canada's Border Services Agency, numbers have roughly doubled in each of the last four years to 321 cases in fiscal 2015-2016. Since April, there have been 403 cases.
People often come from Djibouti, Ghana, Nigeria and Somalia, said Chahal, whose agency works out of a building designed by a top Canadian architect who was once himself a refugee.
The numbers are high, but the risky routes asylum seekers take are also alarming. "They're crossing through farmers' fields. Many of them are getting lost," Chahal said. The recent arrivals, she said, tell a common story: "'We're afraid of what's happening in the United States, we're not sure what's going to happen if I get sent back to my country.'"
Samatar Adam, 30, from Djibouti, arrived last month. Asked why he did not file a refugee claim in the US, he replied: "Donald Trump." He left soon after the inauguration. "It saddens me to see refugees flee not only their country but also a safe, democratic country like the United States," said the Immigration Partnership Winnipeg's Hani Al-Ubeady, himself an Iraqi refugee who now helps resettle others.
"They have to take another risky journey to make it to another safe place -- Canada."
As a reminder, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded to Donald Trump’s immigration ban by saying Canada welcomes refugees who have been rejected from the US.
“To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada,” he tweeted.
And now it's Canada's problem? Will protesters blockade the northern border demanding US refugees stay in America? Will virtue-signaling have to be turned up to '11'? For now it seems Canada's "safe spaces" are safer than America's "safe spaces."