The story of people walking across the Canada-U.S. border to seek refuge in our country is capturing international media attention. Reporters from national media outlets in Canada, a film crew from France and reporters from prominent American newspapers like the New York Times and Washington Post were all in Emerson trying to tell this story.
Refugee claimants, mostly from African countries such as Somalia and Ghana, have been risking freezing temperatures, as they walk through farmer's fields. The migrants are trying to get over the border illegally and into the community of Emerson. Over the last few months, hundreds have made the trip.
Reporter Dan Levin was in Emerson this week covering the story for the New York Times. Levin says this is an important story that needs to be told for a couple of reasons.
"This is where we're seeing a direct human impact of President Donald Trump's executive order," said Levin. "I think it's surprising to see people crossing the border with real concern. You don't really think of the United States as a place where people are desperate to leave."
Statistics from Canada Border Services Agency indicate that border jumping near Emerson has been happening for the past number of years. Just over 400 refugees have crossed illegally into Canada at Emerson since last March, most of them from the Minneapolis area. Last weekend marked the first time that such a large group, about 21 people in total, came across at one time.
Levin says the other part of the story is connected to the contrast that exists between the U.S. and Canada, when it comes to refugee policy and enforcement.
"It's striking to see the response of a mid-western town on this side of the border to what you're seeing in the U.S. A state like North Dakota, which voted for Trump, seems to have a different opinion about how refugees and immigrants are handled. Just to see a more welcoming side over here is quite interesting," Levin said.
Levin suggested this is a story that is going to continue for some time.
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