A wave of refugees has been heading to Canada after first living for a time in the U.S. Canadian officials say more than 2,500 people crossed the border in January and February seeking asylum.
Mohammed Ahmed, a refugee from Pakistan, spent a year in New Jersey before he and his family walked across the border to Canada just north of Plattsburgh, N.Y. last month. He says he was afraid he would be detained and separated from his wife and two children.
“The Trump policy, he was just deporting the guys over there. We didn’t see any future there, so that’s why we came over,” he says.
After being briefly detained, the family was allowed to go free and given a voucher to live at the YMCA, which is part of a system of shelters for refugees coming into Canada from all over the world.
Ahmed says he no longer feels hounded or like a criminal.
“Canada is the best place. They give us the shelters. My lawyer, she’s being paid by the government. Everyone here in the YMCA and the immigration office, they help us a lot,” he says.
Ahmed says he was receiving death threats back home in Pakistan, so he’s confident he’ll be allowed to stay in Canada.
‘The basics are taken care of’
Across town, Francine Dupuis’ Montreal office is busy with new immigrants to Canada, many of them refugees. She’s leading the government-funded effort to resettle the wave of asylum seekers arriving in Quebec from the U.S.
“We’re managing them now. We’re not overwhelmed because we’ve been used to waves. We’ve had the Mexican waves, Kosovo wave and more recently, the Syrian wave,” she says.