A lot has been said and written about U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel ban, and Manitoba has been feeling the effects of the hostile environment south of the border.

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This article was published 27/2/2017 (1699 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A lot has been said and written about U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel ban, and Manitoba has been feeling the effects of the hostile environment south of the border.

Along with Manitoba, Quebec has seen a huge increase in the number of asylum seekers entering the province. It has prompted the city of Montreal to vote unanimously in favour of adopting a motion declaring Montreal a ‘sanctuary city.’

There is talk that Winnipeg could do the same.

What that means is that the city would protect access to basic services for asylum seekers without the fear of being reported to immigration officials. Being a ‘sanctuary city’ carries no legal definition but could mean significant changes. There is debate whether it could create tension between the municipal government and police service. It could also mean nothing at all.

Regardless of where someone stands on either of those debates, Winnipeg is currently in a unique position. With such a huge increase in the number of asylum seekers crossing the boarder near Emerson, it is also time to make a decision.

There are reasons why it would make sense for Winnipeg to become a sanctuary city.

For one, there are signs that there is support among citizens for this kind of initiative.

Because of the increase in the number of asylum seekers entering the province, the Canadian Muslim Women’s Institute in Winnipeg put out a call for donations. They came pouring in.

There are also civil society groups — the South Osborne Syrian Refugee Initiative being one of them — which support the influx of refugees into the city. There is clearly support for the city to adopt the designation.

At the same time, recent polls suggest that a significant portion of the Canadian population feels trepidation towards granting so many refugees access to Canada and in a democracy they have the right to be heard.

But people are coming into Manitoba now, and there needs to be some policy in place to deal with the situation.

Winnipeg is a city in a province that often finds it hard to keep its young, talented people from leaving.

That’s why we offer tax incentives to university graduates who stay in province for five years.

Being a sanctuary city may carry no legal definition but it does make the city an inviting place for young, talented people from countries deemed undesirable to settle and make a life.

Immigration has benefitted this city and country in ways that can’t be quantified by any simple metric.
Given the right conditions, this can continue to be the case.

Andrew Braga is a community correspondent for South Osborne.

Andrew Braga

Andrew Braga
South Osborne community correspondent

Andrew Braga is a community correspondent for South Osborne.

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