Refugees crossing into Canada from US on foot despite freezing temperatures
Eight asylum-seekers, including four children, barely made it across the Canadian border on Friday as a US border patrol officer tried to stop them and a Reuters photographer captured the scene.
“Nobody cares about us,” he told journalists. He said they were all from Sudan and had been living and working in Delaware for two years.
People seeking refugee status have been pouring over the Canada-US border as the United States looks to tighten its policies on refugees and illegal immigrants. Asylum-seekers sneak across because even if they are caught, they can make a claim in Canada; if they make a claim at a border crossing, they are turned away.
Last weekend, nearly 70 people seeking asylum in Canada were arrested, adding to the small but growing number of refugees who are braving cold winter conditions to cross the border after Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily barring people from seven Muslim-majority countries.
Migrants must apply for asylum in whichever is the first country they arrive in, according to a 2004 deal between Canada and the US known as the Safe Third Country Agreement.
The agreement means that unsuccessful applicants for asylum in Canada can be sent back to the US, and since Trump’s executive order, migration advocates have called for the agreement to be repealed.
“The United States is not safe for all refugees,” told The Guardian Janet Dench, the executive director of the Canadian Council of Refugees. “The situation was bad before, but it’s even worse now and there’s huge uncertainty in terms of how people will be treated and whether Canada can respect its obligation to respect refugees if it sends them back to the US.”