ST. PAUL, Minn. – During a meeting with Gov. Mark Dayton this week, Canadian Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale pushed back on the influx of asylum seekers into Canada this year, saying we need to “fully figure out” why this is happening.
As Alpha News previously reported, refugees that once found a home in Minnesota are now heading for the Canadian border. Reuters reports nearly 3,500 have walked into Canada from the U.S. from January through May. Most of the illegal border crossings happen on the Minnesota-Canadian border, with the asylum seekers braving the bitter Minnesota winter to escape the country.
The majority of refugees and immigrants fleeing the country come from Somalia, Ghana, or other African countries. While Minnesota used to be a desirable home for the refugees, some have speculated President Donald Trump’s views on immigration caused the spike in illegal border crossings.
“The problem has not gone away and we need to fully figure out why this is happening and we need a full effort on both sides to make sure that we’re doing everything we possibly can do for the integrity of the border,” Goodale said in an interview with Reuters following his meeting with Dayton. “Because if people broadly begin to have doubts about that, then the reaction will get to be harsher and harsher and harsher and it’s in everyone’s interest here to ensure the integrity of the border.”
Asylum seekers have to avoid official border crossings because of the U.S.-Canada Safe Third Country Agreement. Under this agreement, people seeking asylum must apply for refugee status in the first safe country they arrive in. Immigrants showing up at the Canadian border would be told to apply for refugee status in the U.S. and turned away. However, if immigrants cross the border illegally and are arrested by Canadian officials, they can apply for refugee status and their case will often be heard.
In order to avoid the official border crossings, refugees and immigrants make treacherous trips across difficult terrain. This poses a safety risk, particularly in the winter months where asylum seekers face freezing temperatures and waist-high snow. One woman has died making the trek, and two men lost fingers from frostbite. The safety risk has many people concerned, including Aaron Heitke, the Border Patrol Grand Forks sector commander.
“Family groups with small children that, if someone hadn’t gone out and picked them up, they’d have frozen to death,” Heitke told USA Today.
According to Reuters, Dayton and Goodale discussed methods of border security. Dayton favors using technology over a physical border wall. Dayton is expected to discuss the issue with Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly next month.