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    Default American Immigrants Seeking Refugee in Canada from USA

    Asylum-seeking Syrian family crosses into Quebec from U.S. in -15C weather

    Asylum-seekers crossing through the woods to Quebec surged in recent months, Canada Border Services says

    By Elysha Enos, CBC News Posted: Feb 11, 2017

    A Syrian family of three was stopped at Hemmingford, Que., by the RCMP Saturday morning as they illegally crossed the border from the U.S. to apply for refugee status in Canada.

    The young Syrian family dragged luggage and pushed their daughter in a stroller through the snow in about -15C weather. Their girl is about three years old.

    According to the Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA), the number of asylum seekers recently has surged, from 46 claims filed in January 2014 in Quebec to 452 this January.

    RCMP officers were waiting for the family and detained them, as is standard procedure with refugee claimants.

    The area of the woods where the family crossed is patrolled 24 hours per day, seven days per week by the RCMP.

    The family will be brought to the Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle border crossing.

    The family's daughter is put into a vehicle after crossing the border into Quebec in subzero temperatures early Saturday morning. (Pascal Robidas/Radio-Canada)

    "There's a process to follow," said retired provincial police officer and police affairs analyst François Doré.

    "The RCMP aren't there to treat them like bandits. They're here to apply the law."

    After that, they will have a date before the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada tribunal.
    They won't be in custody while they wait for their tribunal date.

    Growing number of asylum-seekers

    The number of asylum-seekers entering Quebec illegally from the United States by walking through the woods has surged in the past few months.

    According to the CBSA, there were 368 asylum-seekers entering Quebec from the U.S. in Nov. 2016, by December that number jumped to 593.
    Within that timeframe, U.S. President Donald Trump began speaking about barring all Muslims from entering the country.

    By late January, Trump signed an executive order stating that anyone from seven majority-Muslim countries was banned from entering the U.S. for 90 days. The ban was later temporarily blocked by a U.S. judge.

    Julie Lessard, a specialist in business immigration law, said the climate in the U.S. has created a sense of insecurity in some people, despite the ban being temporarily blocked.

    "People are just trying to get better lives, so if the ban comes back in another form — and because of the insecurity that it all created — well definitely, there was an increase in the last couple of weeks of the number of people trying to cross the border," Lessard said.

    "I don't see it ending at this point in time."

    Stéphane Handfield, an immigration rights lawyer said that in the past few weeks his office has been getting calls regularly.

    "Not only me, but other lawyers that provide this service," Handfield told CBC's French-language service Radio-Canada.
    Why cross in the woods?

    The reason some asylum-seekers will choose to cross in the woods instead of at a formal border crossing goes back to 2004 and the Safe Third Country agreement.

    The agreement was designed to limit the number of people claiming refugee status in Canada.

    It was created so that refugee status can only be claimed in the first safe country someone arrives in. But it only holds at official border crossings.

    People crossing into Canada through open terrain can apply for refugee status here.


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    Dallas County passes resolution welcoming unauthorized immigrants

    Immigrant advocates packed a Dallas County commissioners meeting Tuesday, turning a vote welcoming unauthorized immigrants into hours of emotional, sometimes tense debate over so-called sanctuary cities.

    The "Welcoming Communities" resolution, which is not legally binding, passed 4-1. The commission's sole Republican, Commissioner Mike Cantrell, voted against it.

    The symbolic resolution says that unauthorized immigrants are "integral members to our community." It calls for local law enforcement to "end nonessential collaborations" with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

    Cantrell said that language "paints a bull's-eye on Dallas County" for President Donald Trump and Gov. Greg Abbott to take away federal and state funding that the county needs. Both Trump and Abbott have called for punishing sanctuary cities, a loose term that they have used to describe jurisdictions that don't fully cooperate with ICE.

    "This is a resolution that supports open borders and will label Dallas County as a sanctuary county," Cantrell said. "This resolution is nothing more than pitching a personal and political agenda."

    Though Dallas County has sometimes been considered a sanctuary by conservative politicians, county officials reject that notion. Sheriff Lupe Valdez has said her office fully cooperates with federal immigration authorities and has never rejected an ICE request.

    Commissioner Elba Garcia, who moved to America from Mexico decades ago, said she introduced the resolution to calm immigrants and make them feel safe in Dallas County. She said local law enforcement officers have told her they want to forge trust with immigrants — not deport them.

    "The purpose of this resolution is the dream — the American dream," Garcia said. But she stopped short of specifying what she meant by ending "nonessential collaborations" with ICE. "We don't want to do the federal government's work. 'Nonessential' means exactly that."

    The resolution's wording also concerned Dallas City Councilman Lee Kleinman. He urged the commissioners to remove the clause about stopping "nonessential collaborations" with ICE.

    "We are asking to have our hands slapped — so please don't put us in that position where we get named a sanctuary city," said Kleinman, who supported the intent and tone of the rest of the resolution. He said the city receives tens of millions of federal dollars for crucial needs such as transportation, housing and policing.

    "We're going to reject federal funding to make a statement," Kleinman said.

    Dozens of activists turned their backs to Kleinman as he spoke.

    "We're not trying to poke a bear," County Judge Clay Jenkins replied. "If the bear eventually comes over here, we'll try to fight the bear. But until then, we're trying to work with the bear."

    Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, in a statement, said he agreed with the "overall tone" of the resolution and wanted Dallas to remain a "welcoming, tolerant city."

    But he shared Kleinman's concerns about the "ramifications of any misperception" that Dallas police aren't cooperating with ICE. He said they are and will continue to do so, regardless of the county's resolution.

    State Sen. Don Huffines, a Republican representing northern Dallas County, urged the county in a news release to "immediately rescind" the resolution, which he called "dangerous, irresponsible, and reprehensible."

    "Dallas County should focus on keeping Texans safe from criminal aliens instead of playing politics and taking jabs at the laws that they swore an oath to uphold," Huffines said. "The resolution is irrational, and it is an affront to millions of law-abiding legal immigrants."

    At the meeting, Kleinman was the only speaker, out of at least two dozen, who objected to any part of the resolution.

    One by one, men and women stepped to the podium to support the document that they said would help immigrants feel safe calling 911 and reporting crimes to law enforcement.

    "The Welcoming Communities resolution serves as a firm rejection of the hateful rhetoric of President Trump," said Brianna Brown, deputy director of the Texas Organizing Project. "In this era of uncertainty and divisiveness, Dallas County cannot afford to sit on the sidelines."

    The resolution also includes some statistics about unauthorized immigrants' contributions to the local economy. It says that 1 in 3 unauthorized residents in Dallas County are homeowners and that unauthorized residents throughout Texas paid about $178 million in property taxes and $1.4 billion in sales tax in 2010, citing a 2016 Texas Public Policy Foundation study.

    The resolution also states that Texas county jails spent $210 million housing unauthorized immigrants from December 2012 through October 2015 and were reimbursed only $4 million of those costs.

    A speaker, Maria Robles, said she feared being deported under the new presidential administration despite her legal residency on a work permit.

    "I live in fear of being separated every day from my family," Robles said. "We should never forget that regardless of our immigration status, we are all human beings."



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