At least 10 refugees cross Manitoba-U.S. border after Trump's travel ban
At least 10 refugees crossed the U.S.-Canadian border in Manitoba over the weekend after U.S. President Donald Trump announced Friday his ban on travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries.
Since January, 39 refugees have crossed into the snowy Manitoba wilderness in hopes of finding asylum in Canada. Some asylum seekers have been hospitalized from the frigid conditions, and analysts say border crossings are on the rise.
“To have this sudden surge that we have experienced, and we expect that that will continue, is quite overwhelming,” Rita Chahal of the Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council told CTV News.
Trump’s controversial ban puts a 90-day freeze on travellers to the U.S. from seven countries: Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Sudan. It also suspends America’s refugee program for at least four months, a move that has left many asylum seekers carrying valid U.S. visas stranded overseas.
One of the 10 recent asylum seekers included a man who said he risked the cold trek from Minnesota to Manitoba on Saturday out of fear of Trump’s policy. It was the first time that the man, originally from East Africa, had seen snow.
“I heard the rumours about U.S. President Donald Trump -- that they’ll send people back where they came from. That’s why people flee to Canada,” said the man, who asked to keep his identity anonymous.
The 32-year-old is from Djibouti, a country not named in Trump’s executive order. But he said he was worried about what could unfold.
Similar crossings have jumped across Canada. From 2015 to 2016, the number of land border crossings by asylum seekers jumped to 7,022 from 4,407, according to figures collected by the Canadian Border Services Agencies.
Some of those asylum seekers may be forced to return to the U.S. Under the Safe Third Country agreement signed by Canada and the U.S. more than a decade ago, refugees must claim status in the first country they enter.
Some advocates say that, under the Trump administration, deporting asylum seekers to the U.S. can no longer be considered a safe option.
“The way that things have been going in the states for the past week or so, we no longer think that the United States should be considered a safe country,” said Michelle Falk of the Manitoba Association for Rights and Liberties.
In another case, a bisexual man from Ghana who feared repressive anti-gay laws in his home country and was facing deportation in the U.S. walked for 10 hours through cold conditions on Christmas Eve to seek refuge in Canada. Seidu Mohammed, 24, suffered extreme frostbite during the crossing and may lose both of his hands.
“It was worth it because I don’t want to go back to my country,” he told CTV Winnipeg at the time. “I’ll lose my life. It’s better I come here for a better life.”
With a report from CTV Manitoba Bureau Chief Jill Macyshon