Meeting called to discuss spike of refugees crossing into Manitoba

Click to play video: 'Surge of refugees seek asylum in tiny Manitoba town'
Surge of refugees seek asylum in tiny Manitoba town
WATCH ABOVE: Community leaders in Emerson, Manitoba are asking for more resources to deal with a surge of refugees seeking asylum from the United States. Reid Fiest reports – Feb 9, 2017

EMERSON, MAN. — A meeting between officials in Emerson, RCMP and the Canadian Border Services Agency appears to have eased concerns about people crossing the U.S. border and entering the small town.

People have been illegally crossing the border through Emerson for decades, said Greg Janzen, the Reeve of Emerson.

READ MORE: Emerson officials concerned for public safety after flood of refugees fleeing US

But now, he said, it’s happening far more often, “the numbers are increasing a lot.”

Janzen asked for the Thursday afternoon meeting after around 20 people crossed from the U.S. last weekend alone.

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The Canadian Border Services pledged to rent out an emergency complex in the town if another influx should happen while the RCMP committed to increasing surveillance around the Emerson crossing.

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“We do have technology, we do have patrols, we do have an entire border enforcement team, we do have attachments across the border. We are responsible for over 500 kilometres of Manitoba border,” said Tara Seel with Manitoba RCMP.

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“They assured us that they will have the manpower to handle influxes of refugees, said Janzen.

Last year, Manitoba RCMP stopped 444 illegal border crossings.

Since April 2016, Welcome Place, a newcomer centre in Winnipeg has processed nearly 300 refugee claims.

“We have to trust the laws that are in place in our country, we have to trust the professionals who implement the law in our land,” said Rita Chahal from Welcome Place.

At the meeting, Chahal urged Emerson resisters not be afraid of people crossing the border.

The centre dropped off care packages that will stay at the town’s emergency complex in case any more people arrive.

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