On March 8, firefighters in Emerson, Manitoba were taken by surprise, as they reached a shed to find 17 asylum seekers including a baby taking shelter from a major storm that blew through the area.
This isn’t the first time that refugees in such high numbers have crossed the border town. According to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), 410 refugee claimants were intercepted near the Emerson port of entry while crossing into Canada between April 1 and December 8, 2016. A majority of these claimants are reportedly from Somalia and have been denied asylum in the U.S.
Reports indicate that asylum seekers are entering Canada to take advantage of a loophole in the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement, according to which individuals who cross the border on foot outside of official crossing points are able to claim refugee status in Canada.
Here are a few statistics to understand the refugee issue better. Between January –September 2015 and January-September 2016, the total number of refugee claims spiked from 11,431 to 16,369 (an increase of 43%) at all offices of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Take a look at data pertaining to top 10 source countries for refugee claims below:
|Top 10 Source Countries – Refugee Claims at All Offices|
|CALENDAR YEAR||YEAR TO DATE|
|2011||2012||2013||2014||2015||2015 (Jan-Sep)||2016 (Jan-Sep)||% Change|
|Somali Democratic Republic||428||432||290||331||508||336||501||49%|
|Total Top 10||10,193||7,484||4,156||5,634||7,327||5,159||7,249||41%|
|Source: IRCC(EDW) of November 10, 2016|
|* Other includes: other countries, stateless, unknown, missing and/or invalid data|
Many of them are crossing the border by foot even as temperatures dip. In fact, two men from Ghana ended up at the burn ward of a Winnipeg hospital after getting lost near the Emerson border on Christmas Eve, while fleeing the United States on a cold winter day.
With extensive experience of 28 years, MCIS does plenty to help refugee claimants. We provide interpretation and translation services to help claimants and frequently work with Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) and IRCC. As a non-profit social enterprise, we also reinvest into communities by allocating a substantial chunk of our revenue to social benefit initiatives.
So, if you ever bump into a refugee claimant who is a Limited English Speaker, get them the help they need by asking them to visit our office or getting in touch with us over the phone.
Vivek Vijayapalan, Marketing and Communications Coordinator, March 29, 2017, Toronto, Ontario