Canada won't clamp down at border as hundreds seek asylum from the US

America's neighbor to the north has been increasingly seen as a haven for some immigrants who are willing to chance a walk across the border in dangerous cold. Source: FR61802 AP

Hundreds of people fleeing US President Donald Trump's immigration crackdown have walked across the US border, seeking asylum in Canada.

Canada will not tighten its border to deter migrants crossing illegally from the United States in the wake of a US immigration crackdown because the numbers are not big enough to cause alarm.

Canada's Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said the issue had not risen to a scale that required hindering the flow of goods and people moving across the world's longest undefended border.

Hundreds of people, mainly from Africa and the Middle East, have defied freezing conditions and walked across the border, seeking asylum. They are fleeing President Donald Trump's immigration crackdown, migrants and refugee agencies say.

Immigrants fleeing US
Canada and US border crossing near Emerson, Manitoba Desperate immigrants are flowing across the US border into Canada.

It is not common to have so many asylum seekers in the US looking for refuge in Canada over such a short period. The influx poses a political risk for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who faces pressure from the left, which wants more let in, and from the right, which fears an increased security risk.

"We are concerned and we will deal properly with the extra hundreds (crossing illegally)," Goodale told reporters at a televised news conference in Emerson, Manitoba.

"But the full border deals with 400,000 people moving in both directions every day. It also handles $C2.5 billion in trade every day.

"It is critically important for us to make sure that it is strong and secure. At the same time, it needs to be efficient and expeditious."

Emerson, on the North Dakota border, has been overwhelmed by the migration and appealed for more government help to handle the influx.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Manitoba say 183 people have walked across that border in sub-zero temperatures since January 1. Goodale said the pace has picked up in recent weeks.

On January 25, a White House executive order temporarily banned visitors from seven mainly Muslim countries and also expanded immigration enforcement action domestically.

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