WINNIPEG, Manitoba/OTTAWA– As Trump supporters wait to see what will happen with the proposed wall south of the border, America’s northern neighbors are dealing with their own border concerns.
Nearly half of Canadians want to deport people who are illegally crossing into Canada from the United States, and a similar number disapproves of how Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is handling the influx, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll released on Monday.
An article by GlobalNews.ca, examined how Canadians view increasing numbers of immigrants coming from the U.S. to escape deportation. Since the election of President Trump, Canada has seen “hundreds of asylum-seekers of African and Middle Eastern origin” enter from the U.S.
Trudeau, whose views differ from Trump’s on the handling of undocumented immigrants, is being attacked on both sides—by liberals who want to see more lenient immigration policies and conservatives who say immigrants pose a security risk.
According to the poll, 4 out of 10 respondents said the border crossers could make Canada “less safe” and 48 percent support increasing deportation of those living in Canada illegally. That number is almost identical to the number of Americans—50 percent of U.S. adults support deportation.
“Refugees are much more welcomed when we have gone and selected them ourselves as a country, as opposed to refugees who have chosen us,” said Janet Dench, executive director of Canadian Council for Refugees.
Of those polled, 46 percent disagreed with how Trudeau was handling the situation, 37 percent agreed, while 17 percent did not know. In January, a separate Ipsos poll found that 59 percent of Canadians approved of Trudeau, while 41 percent disapproved.
Trump’s travel ban has impacted the number of people willing to brave icy weather and cross the border on foot. There were four times more asylum claimants arriving at land border crossings than at airports in the first two months of 2017, new Canadian data show, according to the Toronto Star.
“(The) airport was the easiest way, but because of the visa requirements, it is becoming more difficult to travel here by air than by land, and it is easier to get a visa to the U.S. than to Canada,” Dench said.
More than 7,000 refugee applicants entered Canada in 2016 through land ports of entry from the U.S., up 63 percent from the previous year, according to Canada Border Services Agency.
While some have risked hypothermia to cross Canada in the dead of winter, others have chosen to wait it out. Canadian officials are bracing for an even greater influx of migrants when the weather gets warmer.
“They will make a dash for Canada, whether they are going to go through cold weather to die or not,” said Abdikheir Ahmed, a Somali immigrant in Manitoba's capital Winnipeg who helps refugees make claims.
Since late summer, 27 men from Ghana walked to Manitoba from the U.S., Yeboah said. Two lost all their fingers to frostbite in December and nearly froze to death.
Illegal migrants interviewed by Reuters in Canada said they had been living legally in the United States and had applied for asylum there. But they had fled to Canada for fear of being caught up in Trump’s immigration crackdown.
According to a separate Ipsos poll in Canada, 23 percent of Canadians listed immigration control as among the top national issues in March, up from 17 percent in December. It ranks behind healthcare, taxes, unemployment and poverty as top concerns.
Photo Caption: Experts say the sudden rise in land border claims can be attributed in part to the anti-immigrant and xenophobic policies of President Donald Trump.