February 17, 2017 10:59 pm
Updated: February 18, 2017 1:20 pm

With open arms, Mounties help refugees who walked across the Canadian border

Politicians are divided on how to respond to the growing number of people crossing into Quebec on foot to claim refugee status

A A

Every day, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) arrest people who cross the U.S.-Canada border illegally.

Last Saturday, the Mounties arrested a Syrian family of three in Hemmingford, Que., a town just north of the border with the state of New York, after they crossed to apply for refugee status.

Four days later, the RCMP arrested a woman and a baby who had crossed in deep snow from New York state.

Those people are just five out of a growing number making illegal crossings into Canada as the United States has wrestled with President Donald Trump’s executive order for a travel ban on refugees and citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries.

Illegal crossings have increased lately, and much of the activity has been concentrated in Quebec, RCMP spokeswoman Cpl. Camille Habel told Global News last week.

Over 450 people made refugee claims at land border crossings in the province in January, according to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

B.C. and Manitoba have also seen more unlawful crossings in recent months.

WATCH BELOW: Surge of refugees seek asylum in tiny Manitoba town

As many as 21 asylum seekers braved the cold and crossed the border into Emerson, Man. on Saturday, after another 22 came over the previous weekend.

But refugees aren’t just coming from countries subject to Trump’s travel ban. As many as 27 Ghanaian men have crossed into Manitoba from the United States since the summer.

Two of those men lost all their fingers to frostbite when they crossed in December.

The Canadian Press gave people a closer look at border crossings in a series of photos released on Friday.

Family members from Somalia are helped into Canada by RCMP officers along the U.S.-Canada border near Hemmingford, Que., on Friday, Feb. 17, 2017. A number of refugee claimants are braving the elements to illicitly enter Canada.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

The photos show people from countries such as Somalia and Yemen, both of which were targeted by Trump’s travel ban, crossing the U.S.-Canada border into Hemmingford, where they’re greeted by RCMP officers.

Border-crossers are arrested upon arrival if they’ve come over without reporting themselves, under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, Habel said Saturday.

But some Mounties, like this one, still greeted them with smiles and helped them with their belongings.

Family members from Somalia are helped into Canada by RCMP officers along the U.S.-Canada border near Hemmingford, Que., on Friday, Feb. 17, 2017.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

The crossings have proven a divisive issue among politicians.

Canadian Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale has said that the RCMP and the CBSA are “keeping a very active watch” on refugees coming into Canada from the U.S.

He also said he will soon discuss border issues with U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, though a date hadn’t been set for discussions as of Tuesday.

WATCH BELOW: Goodale says RCMP, CBSA ‘keeping a very active watch’ on refugees crossing border

Meanwhile, in Quebec, Premier Philippe Couillard said, “Illegal entry is illegal entry and will remain illegal entry.”

Parti Québécois (PQ) leader Jean-François Lisée, however, said Canada should “extend a hand” and accept the refugees.

READ MORE: Syrian family seeking asylum illegally enters Quebec through U.S.-Canada border

Trump’s travel ban was shot down after a U.S. appeals court refused to reinstate it following a ruling by a lower court that suspended the order.

The U.S. president has subsequently said that he’ll issue a new executive order to replace his original ban next week.

Canada has already accepted over 40,000 Syrian refugees. It may yet face more from the U.S.

Here are more CP photos showing people crossing into Hemmingford, Que.:

Family members from Somalia are escorted by RCMP officers after crossing the U.S.-Canada border near Hemmingford, Que., on Friday, Feb. 17, 2017.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

 

A U.S. Border Patrol agent passes a baby carriage to an RCMP officer left over after a Somalian family crossed the U.S.-Canada border into Canada near Hemmingford, Que., on Friday, Feb. 17, 2017.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

 

A Somali man leaps across the border between an RCMP officer and a U.S. Border Patrol agent at the U.S.-Canada border near Hemmingford, Que., on Friday, Feb. 17, 2017. A number of refugee claimants are braving the elements to illicitly enter Canada.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

 

RCMP officers arrest two Somali men after crossing the U.S.-Canada border with their families into Canada near Hemmingford, Que., on Friday, Feb. 17, 2017. A number of refugee claimants are braving the elements to illicitly enter Canada.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

 

A Somali man is frisked by an RCMP officer after crossing the U.S.-Canada border into Canada near Hemmingford, Que., on Friday, Feb. 17, 2017. A number of refugee claimants are braving the elements to illicitly enter Canada.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

 

An RCMP officer extends his hand to help a young man from Yemen to cross into Canada at the U.S.-Canada border into Canada near Hemmingford, Que., on Friday, Feb. 17, 2017. A number of refugee claimants are braving the elements to illicitly enter Canada.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

 

A young man from Yemen is arrested by an RCMP officer on the U.S.-Canada border near Hemmingford, Que., on Friday, Feb. 17, 2017. A number of refugee claimants are braving the elements to illicitly enter Canada.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

 

A young man from Yemen is handcuffed by an RCMP officer after crossing the U.S.-Canada border into Canada near Hemmingford, Que., on Friday, Feb. 17, 2017. A number of refugee claimants are braving the elements to illicitly enter Canada.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

 

An RCMP officer looks on as two Somali families prepare to cross the U.S.-Canada border near Hemmingford, Que., on Friday, Feb. 17, 2017. A number of refugee claimants are braving the elements to illicitly enter Canada.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Report an error

Comments

Want to discuss? Please read our Commenting Policy first.