Emerson crossers a good opportunity
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/02/2017 (2224 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The town of Emerson can expect a steady stream of asylum seekers from the United States to continue turning up on their doorsteps — much more so as the weather turns milder and the risk of frostbite diminishes. Manitoba and Canada should not let the small border town bear the burden of sheltering and managing people seeking refuge. The authorities should take full advantage of their eagerness to live in Canada and set them on a path to becoming model citizens, keeping in mind, of course, refugee claimants are statistically the least likely to be involved in terrorist activities.
For the most part, the Somalis and Djiboutis who have been turning up at Emerson have been in the U.S. for a period of months or years awaiting adjudication of their refugee claims. They are suddenly anxious to leave the U.S. because of the proposed clampdown on refugee claims and on people from Somalia and six other Muslim-majority countries.
Their misfortune is Canada’s opportunity. Once they make it through the snow and across the fields to Emerson, these people have overcome difficulties that would discourage most of us, showing the depth of their desire to be here. They are likely to treasure Canadian citizenship much more than people who acquired it more easily.
We must not be naïve. Somalia has been a theatre of civil war and Islamic insurgency for the past 25 years. Terrorists of al-Shabab occasionally turn up in Kenya to shoot up shopping malls or set off bombs. The Somali national assembly met briefly Feb. 7 in a heavily guarded hangar at Mogadishu airport to elect a new president, formerly a New York state transport official from Buffalo, who will control very little of the country. Mobile people may have perfectly valid reasons for leaving such a chaotic place, but we have to know with whom we’re dealing.
Fortunately, most of them have some kind of track record in the U.S. Once they are identified, the Canadian authorities should be able to access U.S. files to get some background on each individual.
Ordinary human decency demands that Canada and Manitoba should feed and shelter them. Caution dictates that we should find out all we can about their history and their motives. Self-interest should urge us to respond to their ingenuity and the intensity of their desire to live here.
It may take many years, but these migrants include people who will start businesses, send their kids to university and become some of the most patriotic Canadians you could ever meet. They will cling to Canada the way drowning people cling to a life-raft. We should spend a little bit now to shelter them and expect a rich harvest of new citizens in future years.
The traffic of asylum seekers at Emerson, numbered in the dozens, is a mere trickle compared with the hundreds of thousands crossing the Mediterranean Sea, at risk of their lives, to seek refuge in Greece, Italy and eventually in northern Europe. Many are rescued from shipwrecks and taken to the Italian island of Lampedusa. Europe is having a tough time coping, for want of good co-operation among European states.
Here, we have just one immigration authority, the government of Canada. Even if the numbers increase a great deal, we can handle it. Emerson never expected to become Canada’s Lampedusa. Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, also of Somali origin, should step forward and equip Emerson for the new role thrust upon it.