Refugees Flee Trump's America, Making Dangerous Crossing Into Canada

Refugees Flee Trump’s America, Making Dangerous Crossing Into Canada (VIDEO)

The US Is No Longer A Safe Country For Refugees And Asylum Seekers So Some Are Heading North To Canada

Canada is seeing a surge of refugees willing to risk their lives in freezing temperatures to cross the border illegally and get away from the fear and uncertainty they feel in Trump’s America.

According to the CBC, 21 refugees in total crossed the border from North Dakota into the Canadian province of Manitoba over the weekend while the Globe and Mail reports that another 40 refugees crossed the border into Quebec.

As ABC reports, all together during the last year, there has been 1,280 refugees fleeing into Quebec. That is a three fold increase. Crossings into British Columbia doubled to 652 in the past year. Meanwhile, in Manitoba, police say that this year 430 people have crossed which is up from 68 people three years ago.

The bulk of refugees crossing into Manitoba are Somali. As DW reports, the reason they are leaving the US is because they are scared that they won’t get a fair asylum hearing and that they will be deported back to war torn Somalia. Canada won’t send Somalis back to Somalia because it is an unsafe country.

Donald Trump’s America is now seen as a hostile environment that refugees and asylum seekers want to flee from according to Rita Chahal, executive director of the Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council, a non-profit group that helps refugees and immigrants.

“[They] are concerned about the political climate and the social climate within the US and how they might be treated there.”

The influx of refugees is putting a strain on organizations, like Chahal’s, which are having trouble keeping up with the demand.

“The numbers, if they keep growing, I don’t have the financial resources to hire more staff.”

As refugees enter Canada, activists are calling for an end to what is known as the Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) as Global News reports. The deal says that asylum seekers must apply in the first country they enter. Refugees cannot apply for asylum in Canada at an official border crossing if they have already applied in the US and they will be sent back.

However, the agreement doesn’t apply if refugees cross the border at places other than on official crossing and then seek out an immigration official. This is pushing asylum seekers to take deadly risks, walking across the border in frigid temperatures across farmers’ fields, in deep snow.

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MP Jenny Kwan, the NDP immigration critic attended a rally over the weekend against Trump’s anti-refugee executive order against entry for citizens from seven Muslim countries (which includes Somalia) and called for change in how Canada deals with refugees from the US.

“Canada should immediately suspend Safe Third Country. We can’t consider the US a safe place for refugees. We need to take action. In 2017 we can’t support any democratic country with measures that are discriminatory in nature.”

Her calls for change match those of 235 legal scholars in Canada, especially considering the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic no longer considers the United States a safe country for refugees.

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Somali refugees, like 28-year old Bashir Yussuf, who was denied an asylum request but remained in America hoping that eventually he would be granted the legal right to stay are now scared after the deportation of 90 Somalians on January 25.

“…[W]hen Trump took over, eventually my hope died.”

As the CBC reports, on Christmas eve, two men from Ghana decided to take the dangerous journey across the Canadian border after having their asylum requests denied in the US. Seidu Mohammed was scared to be sent back to his home country where he feared persecution or death for his sexual orientation.

Mohammad and a friend travelled from Minneapolis, Minnesota to Grand Forks, North Dakota where they took a cab to a location near the Canadian border. Then the two men set out on foot in freezing temperatures with brutal wind chills and waded through waist deep snow for 7 hours.

After crossing and eventually being picked up by a trucker, Seidu was taken to hospital with severe frostbite requiring amputation of a toe and several fingers.

His case highlights just how dangerous the journey into Canada is in the middle of winter and the desperate situation asylum seekers and refugees are facing as they flee Trump’s America.

Feature image by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Chris Hearn is an ageing freelance writer located in wintery Winnipeg. He is a stay-at-home-parent, amateur stand-up comedian, and a guy with a lot of opinions, much to everyone’s dismay.