Tensions build in Emerson, Man. amid more illegal border crossings
Published Saturday, February 25, 2017 9:36PM EST
Tensions flared as Liberal MPs visited the small border town of Emerson, Man. to address concerns about the steady stream of asylum seekers crossing the nearby U.S.-Canada border and entering the community.
The Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council has said since Jan. 1 staff has processed 139 refugee claims from people illegally crossing the border. According to local officials, at least 12 more have crossed since Friday.
Response to the asylum seekers -- many of whom are originally from Somalia -- has been mixed in Emerson. Some local volunteers have provided food and lodgings for the groups, while others in the community say they have safety concerns.
To address those concerns, two Manitoba MPs -- Maryann Mihychuk and Robert Falcon-Ouellette -- toured Emerson and spoke with locals.
“Why don’t these people come to our country the way everyone else had to? The legal way,” argued local Ernie Hildbrand. “You’re bringing people from the U.S. and giving them accommodation and feeding them and giving money to survive!”
“Everybody is sad. They’re not happy here anymore,” community member Joe Paulich told CTV Winnipeg.
He added that he now makes sure he locks his doors and said some neighbours have started turning off their lights at night, so that anyone coming into the town won’t come to their door.
The community’s reeve said he is not aware of any incidents involving threats or stolen property in connection with the asylum seekers.
“There may be flaws from time to time, but our systems are some of the most secure in the country,” said Rita Chahal, executive director of the Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council.
Meanwhile, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said Tuesday he will address the illegal crossings when he meets with U.S. Homeland Security Secretary, John Kelly, in the near future.
"We’re doing analysis. We need to know exactly where newcomers are coming from, both in their transit across the United States and the original source of point of departure as well. We need to clearly understand this and anticipate where the ebbs and flows may go over the next number of weeks and months. We want to make sure [the] country is prepared to deal with all of this properly," Goodale said.
Mihychuk and Falcon-Ouellette said they will make sure the concerns are heard in Ottawa.
With a report from CTV Winnipeg