An extremely small border town in the middle of Canada has become a hotbed for refugees who are fleeing the United States because of President Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration.
In a town of only 678 people, Emerson, Manitoba Mayor Greg Janzen says they’ve seen over 300 illegal crossings just since January, mostly Somalians. There were 142 intercepted in February and it increased in March to 170. These are the cold months and when it warms, Janzen expects the number to continue rising.
“The prime minister [Justin Trudeau] welcomes everyone and Mr. Trump says we’re going to clean up our country. Emerson got hit with it,” Janzen said in an NBC News special.
The U.S. and Canada have an agreement called the Safe Third Country Agreement which won’t allow a refugee in the U.S. to apply for asylum in Canada. However, once they’ve crossed illegally into the country, they can claim asylum. The town of Emerson wants that loophole closed.
“Nothing has changed except more people are crossing,” Janzen said. “Right now, it seems like we have an open border.”
Janzen says only six officers patrol 320 miles at Canada’s southern border, while the U.S. staffs the same stretch with 90. The mayor’s hands are also tied by the Trudeau administration which restricts the Royal Canadian Mounted Police from giving updated information on illegal border crossings to only once a month. Janzen said he used to get updated numbers every week.
“They’re trying to cover this story up,” he said.
Janzen plans on installing motion sensor cameras and even a drone if he has to and monitor the border himself.
Emerson volunteer firefighter Jay Ihme regularly patrols the single stretch of dirt road that is in Canada, noting the ditch directly off the road is in the U.S. It’s called Boundary Avenue, and the only indication that it’s the border are two small flags for each country attached to a pole. The feelings of the town are represented by vandalism on the street sign:
“That’s all we have here for a border,” Ihme said. “So, it’s not that people have to struggle to get across or anything else. It’s just a matter of walking through.”
“I don’t want to defend a border. I mean, people should enter legally and do it properly,” he added. “But we’ve been having this undefended border since forever, and I’d like to keep it that way.”
“It’s not that we don’t want them in Canada, it’s just, we don’t want the way they’re coming in,” Janzen said.
Below is a seven-minute special on the town by NBC News. It’s a really good representation of what is happening in small border towns all across North America. It includes interviews with residents and business owners in town who are fearful for what open borders policies are doing to their way of life: