Asylum seekers rush north of the border to Canada

Posted Feb 8, 2017 by Karen Graham
Fears of what Donald Trump's immigration policies might mean for their future has forced many refugees in the U.S. to risk freezing weather and deep snow to illegally cross the U.S.-Canadian border into Manitoba and safety.
The Warroad  Manitoba Border Station is one of four facilities on the U.S.-Canada border in Manitoba...
The Warroad, Manitoba Border Station is one of four facilities on the U.S.-Canada border in Manitoba.
W. Baron
A growing flow of refugees, seeking asylum in Canada reminds one immigration lawyer, Bashir Khan in Winnipeg, Manitoba of the underground railroad used by slaves in the mid-19th century escaping slavery in the United States.
The Washington Post is reporting that Mr. Khan says that in the past six months, he has handled about 30 claims for refugees seeking asylum in Canada. Now, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has confirmed that 22 more asylum seekers have crossed the border near Emerson, Manitoba over the last weekend.
At least 61 refugees have fled the U.S. for Canada since January 1, reports CTV News, many of them from Somalia, one of the seven countries singled out in President Trump's controversial immigration ban.
Farhan Ahmed was among a group that included a family with small children who arrived in Emerson on Saturday. He told CBC Canada they walked through deep snow in freezing temperatures for about 12 kilometers (7.45 miles) before calling 911 seeking help. The RCMP picked them up and took them to a Canadian Border Services facility.
The Safe Third Country Agreement
In the wake of the Trump immigration ban, many Canadians, including advocates, students, professors, and politicians are urging the federal government to scrap or at least suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States.
The agreement, which came into effect in 2004, basically says that a person seeking asylum must first make a claim in the first country they arrive in, either Canada or the U.S. This means that Canada must send back to the U.S. any claimants entering Canada via its land border with the U.S.
Returning refugees to the U.S. can be done because the U.S. is considered a "safe" country where claimants can make a case for asylum under the Safe Third Country Agreement. But those calling for the agreement to be scrapped say the U.S. is no longer a safe country for people seeking its protection.
Ahmed is already feeling safe and welcome in Canada. "Canada is a good country. It is a friendly country," he says.