Feb. 13 (UPI) -- Canadian immigration authorities reported an increase in the number of asylum seekers crossing into the country from the United States as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is scheduled to meet Monday with U.S. President Donald Trump.
At least 40 people illegally crossed into Quebec over the weekend, and 21 more were reported crossing into Manitoba, border officials said. Organizations welcoming refugees report they are overwhelmed with new arrivals. Rita Chahal, director of the Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council, told the CBC her group's staff has been reassigned to cope with demands to find housing, immigration lawyers and employment for the new refugees.
The surge comes after Trump signed an executive order temporarily banning refugees and immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries. David Matas, a lawyer who represents refugees, told the newspaper Globe and Mail that he has several clients from Somalia, one of the countries named in the executive order.
Matas said refugees who are found entering Canada through an unguarded area – the border between the United States and the provinces of Quebec or Manitoba, for example – are taken by police to the Canada Border Services Agency. The refugees are screened for security reasons but not detained. He added that unlike the United States, no asylum seeker entering Canada illegally will be sent back to Somalia, a country Canada deems as too dangerous.
CBSA said the number of asylum seekers traveling to Canada through Manitoba, a western province, is over 400 in the 2016-2017 fiscal year, and that most are from African countries. The number was 68 in the 2013-2014 fiscal year.
The influx of asylum seekers from the United States into Canada is expected to be discussed when Trudeau and Trump meet Monday at the White House.