Despite all the media reports of refugees illegally entering Canada from the U.S. at remote Manitoba crossings, more are actually getting through along the Quebec-New York border — and it can be just as cold as the temperatures reported along the prairies that have sometimes induced frostbite.
The Canadian Border Security Agency says Quebec is now the flashpoint for “asylum seekers” or double refugees who first entered the U.S. as refugees and are now fleeing there and trying to sneak into Canada over fears that President Donald Trump will have them deported.
The numbers speak for themselves, with 42 asylum claimants showing up at the Quebec border last weekend alone and 452 for January — a 230 percent increase from the year before.
RCMP spokesman Cpl Camille Habel told CBC News that he attributes the popularity of the Quebec border to its relative closeness to major U.S. cities like New York and Washington, D.C. and the fact that international airports are nearby.
“Bigger cities on each side can mean more people trying to cross here.”
The “refugees” are deliberately crossing illegally so they can bypass the Safe Third Country Agreement, which is supposed to prevent people seeking asylum from choosing more than one “safe” destination when the flee their country of origin. The U.S. and Canada are both considered safe under this international legislation. But, paradoxically, the act only applies at legal border crossings; so double refugees are crossing illegally in order avoid their official refugee status from being questioned.
But the agreement only holds at official border crossings, so people crossing illegally into Canada are able to apply for asylum here, even if they arrived in the U.S. first.
Julie Lessard, who specializes in business immigration law, told the CBC that the current illegal flow of refugee claimants that is spreading across the longest undefended border int the world is fast becoming the status quo.
“People are just trying to get better lives, so if the ban comes back in another form — and because of the insecurity that it all created — well definitely, there was an increase in the last couple of weeks of the number of people trying to cross the border,” Lessard said.
“I don’t see it ending at this point in time.”