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Asylum seekers keep first responders busy in Emerson

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Municipal officials in Emerson are meeting to discuss how to deal with an influx of asylum seekers after more than 20 people crossed the border into southern Manitoba overnight Saturday.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/02/2017 (2171 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Municipal officials in Emerson are meeting to discuss how to deal with an influx of asylum seekers after more than 20 people crossed the border into southern Manitoba overnight Saturday.

Twenty-two people had made the trek across the U.S.-Canada border by early Sunday morning, Emerson-Franklin Reeve Greg Janzen said. Manitoba RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency confirmed that number Sunday afternoon. It’s one of the largest groups to cross on any during a weekend overnight stretch so far, part of an increasing number of migrants who have sought refuge in Emerson in recent weeks.

Paramedics were called out around 6 a.m. to help a pregnant woman who had slipped on the ice while trying to cross the border, Janzen said. All of the asylum seekers who crossed overnight, most of whom were from African countries affected by U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel ban, were taken by police to submit refugee claims, he said.

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES At least 22 refugee claimants crossed the border near Emerson overnight Saturday, Feb. 19, reeve Greg Janzen said.

Janzen said he planned to meet with first responders from the volunteer fire department to discuss how the community will respond and get information out about the border jumpers as larger groups continue to cross on weekend nights.

“That’s been the routine here in the last three weeks. There’s bigger groups coming on the weekends. We’ve always had them coming on the weekends, but never this size of groups,” Janzen said, adding he has yet to receive a final count.

The community of about 600 has pleaded for help from federal and provincial governments to expand its limited resources and emergency services to deal with the influx of asylum seekers. Janzen echoed those requests for help Sunday, saying the federal government should make changes to its refugee claims process so that people wouldn’t feel the need to cross the border illegally in the middle of the night.

“We’re welcoming refugees into Canada — they’re not disagreeing with that. Let’s do it in an orderly fashion: let them walk up to the border and claim refugee status. Why do they have to break the law, walk through the middle of our town in the middle of the night? That’s what the residents are saying, like ‘we’re getting fed up with this,'” Janzen said.

“I’m the reeve of Emerson-Franklin. I don’t run the country of Canada. But I’m thinking there’s got to be a way to do this in an orderly manner.”

Since Jan. 1, more than 90 asylum seekers have crossed the border and there have been at least 480 in 2016-17 with still more than a month to go before the end of the fiscal year. There were 340 in all of 2015-16.

History

Updated on Sunday, February 19, 2017 1:31 PM CST: Adds RCMP confirmation.

Updated on Sunday, February 19, 2017 1:52 PM CST: Updates

Updated on Sunday, February 19, 2017 2:30 PM CST: Tweaks second paragraph.

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