Newspaper article The Canadian Press

'Overwhelmed': Manitoba Community Seeing Influx of Unauthorized Border Crossers

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

'Overwhelmed': Manitoba Community Seeing Influx of Unauthorized Border Crossers

Article excerpt

Town wants federal help for border crossers

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EMERSON, Man. - An increasing number of people seeking asylum are braving the elements of the open prairie to come into Canada from the United States, says the head of one small community that is calling for federal help to deal with the influx.

Last weekend alone, 22 people crossed the border from North Dakota into Emerson-Franklin, RCMP confirmed Tuesday. Nineteen were put up in a community hall where they were supervised and fed by officials and volunteers in the community of 2,000 residents.

"It's starting to get overwhelmed here, and now we're starting to have concerns that we maybe need to have more security or do something different," said Greg Janzen, the municipality's reeve.

"We will be sending a bill to (the federal government) because there is a cost to our ratepayers."

The area has always seen the occasional border jumper due to the short walk from communities such as Pembina or Noyes in North Dakota to Emerson-Franklin, which sits right on the boundary. The numbers have increased in recent months and have shot up dramatically in the last couple of weeks following planned new restrictions in the United States on refugees.

Many of the border crossers are from African nations such as Somalia who have been living in the U.S, said Cliff Graydon, who represents the area in the Manitoba legislature. They have two choices at the border -- go to an official entry point and be turned back under the Safe Third Country Agreement with the U.S., or sneak onto Canadian soil, get picked up by police and start the refugee process with the help of non-profit groups.

They used to come individually or in twos or threes, but are now coming in large groups after being driven to areas near the border.

"A number of the people that are refugees are coming from the Minneapolis area, for example. …

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