The United States has historically been thought of as the place where freedom-seekers, dream-chasers, and the financially-burdened go for a better chance at life, but the new presidential administration is radically changing this perception: Reports of refugees fleeing the United States and crossing into Canada have come to light over the past couple of weeks. The reason? Anxiety over President Trump's future plans.
On Jan. 27, the president signed an executive order bringing the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program and all travel from seven primarily Muslim countries — Syria, Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, and Libya. Within hours of its signing, hundreds were already being detained at airports, having their visas confiscated, and spending thousands of dollars to find alternate routes of entry to the U.S. The order was widely protested across the country and roundly condemned by both American politicians and international leaders.
Though the order was blocked roughly a week after being instated, the president has promised to approve a new ban soon, one that will be "tailored" to the federal court decision (which he described as "very bad") responsible for suspending his original order. Though not much information is available in terms of what to expect, the updated version is expected to separate green card holders from those not permitted to enter.
The ban undoubtedly fueled a sense of fear among those who had reached the U.S. and believed it to be their new home and safe haven. A doctor working at the Canadian Centre for Refugee and Immigrant Healthcare named Paul Caulford said there is "no question" about what is pushing these migrants to flee the U.S. “Virtually every person who’s crossed, from pregnant women in the back of trucks to those shepherding their children to safety, have said to us that the United States is no longer a safe country for them to be in," he said.
President Trump has repeatedly exaggerated or misrepresented the issue of refugees in the U.S., insisting that refugees don't need paperwork; that they have been responsible for crime and will likely be responsible for terror attacks; that the vetting and admissions process is lax; and that there are currently many more refugees living on U.S. soil than there actually are.
In a pointed response to Trump's executive order, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took to Twitter the day after its implementation and wrote, "To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada." With two such different leaders it isn't difficult to see why refugees in America would be willing to risk illegally crossing the snowy and harsh Canadian border.
Someone should send President Trump this Full Frontal with Samantha Bee clip explaining how the refugee vetting process works. Perhaps then his understanding will improve and those in the U.S. seeking asylum won't have to seek Trudeau's protection.