Syrian Family Crosses into Quebec Seeking Asylum

A Syrian family of three crossed the border from Mooers New York into Hemmingford Quebec Saturday.  They pushed their three year-old daughter in a stroller through the snow, and -15 temperatures through the crossing.

RCMP officers detained the family.  They took them first to a border crossing at Saint Bernard-de-Lacolle, and then to a detention centre in Laval.  “There’s a process to follow.  The RCMP aren’t there to treat them like bandits.  They’re here to apply the law,” Francois Doré told CBC News.  Doré is a retired provincial police officer in Quebec.

The family will be held at the detention centre for 48 hours, and then released.  They will be  given a date to appear before the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada Tribunal.   They will not be in custody while waiting for the hearing.

Canada Facing Growing Number of Asylum Seekers

The number of people seeking asylum in Canada has increased since the election of Donald Trump as US President.  The number jumped from 368 in November, to  593 in December according to Canada Border Services agency.

The increase can be due in part to a travel ban covering seven Muslim countries.  Trump signed an Executive Order bringing it into law late last month.  It’s been suspended following a judge’s decision that it violated the US constitution.

Trump’s options are to either appeal it to the Supreme Court, or write a new law. “People are just trying to get better lives, so if the ban comes back in another form- and because of the insecurity that it all created- well definitely, there was an increase in the last couple of weeks of the number of people trying to cross the border,” Julie Lessard said to the CBC.  Lessard is a lawyer specializing in business immigration law.

Why Enter Canada through the woods?

Canada signed the “Safe Third Country agreement.”  It was designed to limit the amount of people seeking refugee status in Canada.  It means that those seeking refugee status can only seek status in the first safe country they arrive in.

The agreement however only applies at official border crossings.  Those entering Canada through open land can apply for refugee status.