Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Muslims surge across rural border to Canada, where once arrested they have to be given asylum

A family from Turkey crosses the border
into Canada (NYT photo by Todd Heisler)
Since Donald Trump was elected president, a growing number of Muslims have been illegally crossing the border into Canada, Todd Heisler reports for The New York Times. The town of Champlain, a rural corner in upstate New York known as the North Country, "just a brief detour from a major border crossing on Interstate 87, has become one of the busier illegal points of entry."

Migrants aren't worried about getting caught crossing the border. In fact, they want to get arrested, on the Canadian side, Heisler writes. "An agreement between the U.S. and Canada makes it virtually impossible for them to ask for asylum at a legal border crossing; Canadian border officials would have to turn them back. But a technicality allows them to bypass the agreement by illegally setting foot in Canada." Jean-S├ębastien Boudreault, president of the Quebec Immigration Lawyers Association, told Heisler, “Once they get arrested, they’re already on Canadian soil, so we have to let them do a refugee claim.”

Chris Crowningshiele, a longtime cab driver, said until recently most of his fares in the Plattsburgh, N.Y. area were students or Walmart shoppers, Heisler writes. He said he now picks up passengers at the airport or the bus station, "and over the 25-mile drive north, they have told him that they had traveled from across the country. Some were migrants from Yemen and Turkey. They confided that they were fearful, of what was happening in the countries they wanted to leave behind—not just their homeland but now also the U.S.—and of what they faced once they stepped out of Crowningshiele’s cab."

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Crowningshiele’s taxi is one of a "steady stream of cabs" taking people to the border, Heisler writes. "This is not exactly Trump Country. In Clinton County, which includes Champlain, Hillary Clinton eclipsed Trump by 610 votes. Many residents on Roxham Road said they did not bother to vote and had followed politics just enough to feel disenchanted, if not disgusted."

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