Yesterday, CBC's The National shared this report of a camera crew encountering a man named Mohammad, lying shivering in the snow. He'd taken a 21-hour journey on foot to cross the U.S./Canada border into Emerson, Manitoba, but he wasn't sure where he was until the crew told him he's made it. Mohammad was one of 26 people who crossed the border in Emerson that evening alone.
"America is problem now," Mohammad said in the video. "They take me back home, so my home is not feeling well. Somalia is not like before... Fighting so I can't go back home." In the video, Mohammad is quickly taken into custody by police, and will have the chance to claim asylum.
Since President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning travel into the United States by citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries, Canada has experienced a surge of refugees crossing its border. Many risk their lives to enter, because Canadian law dictates that someone coming into the country from the United States can only claim refugee status if he or she enters outside of an official crossing. Recently two Ghanaian refugees, suffered severe frostbite to their hands when crossing the border from North Dakota into Manitoba.
"For now, I think, because of what's going on in the States now, I think more people will decide that 'Let's come to Canada and try our best,'" one of the injured men, Razak Iyal, told the CBC. "Because most of the people are in the situation that when they go back to their home country, some of them [are] going to suffer of torture, some of them are going to go to prison for all of their lives, some of them are thinking they are going to [be] killed."
Alastair Clarke, of Clarke Immigration Law in Winnipeg told The Canadian Press that many of his new clients who crossed the border on foot did so specifically to make their refugee claims in Canada rather than the United States. The two countries are bound by the Safe Third Country Agreement, which requires a refugee to make their application in whichever country they arrive in first. "The refugees who are coming into Canada do not feel safe in the United States,'' he said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with Trump this week, and the Canadian leader resisted calls to confront the American president on his immigration policies. "The last thing Canadians expect is for me to come down and lecture another country on how they choose they govern themselves," he said.
Trudeau has also declined to lift the cap on privately-sponsored refugee applications in the wake of Trump's executive order.