A new public opinion study shows many Canadians are unhappy about people entering Canada illegally from the United States.
Such border-crossers are mostly people from the Middle East and Africa. Some say they traveled to Canada because they were afraid the U.S. government would return them to their home countries.
News services report that the number of refugees entering Canada rose sharply in the first two months of 2017.
In January and February, Canadian police caught over 1,000 people crossing into Canada without permission. In all of 2016, that number was just over 2,000.
So far this year, about 5,500 people have requested Canada accept them as refugees. Only 20 percent of them have been stopped at the border.
If the trend continues, more than 30,000 people will attempt to get refugee status in Canada this year. That would be 40 percent more than last year.
Due to the surge of refugees, the Reuters news agency asked Canadians what they think of people who come into Canada without permission.
The study found that many Canadians think the country will not be as safe as in the past if the foreigners are permitted to stay.
About 1,000 people were questioned.
Almost half said the migrants should be returned to the U.S. About the same number said they did not agree with the way Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is dealing with the issue.
About 400 people said they thought migrants coming into Canada from the U.S. would make the country less safe.
Last month, Reuters went to the small central border town of Emerson, Manitoba. The U.S. states of Minnesota and North Dakota are south of the town.
Jamie French lives in Emerson. She says last month, a group of 16 migrants came to the door of her house early in the morning. She said she was frightened.
Emerson’s emergency coordinator said none of the migrants have caused any trouble, so far. Some, however, have needed medical treatment after spending hours outside in freezing temperatures.
The increasing numbers of people crossing into Canada can be costly for these border towns.
For example, it costs Emerson $500 every time police call firefighters to help treat the health problems of migrants.
Jacqueline Reimer runs a restaurant in Emerson. She has fed some of the migrants for free. She says she wants them to feel welcome. But she also says she wonders why the Canadian government does not do more to help Canada’s homeless citizens.
Some Canadians also expressed worry that even larger number of people will try to cross the border as the weather warms.
I’m Kelly Jean Kelly.
Dan Friedell wrote this story for Learning English based on reporting by Reuters and the Associated Press. Caty Weaver was the editor.
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Words in This Story
trend – n. a general direction of change : a way of behaving, proceeding, etc., that is developing and becoming more common
status - n. the position of a person or thing according to the law
surge -- n. a sudden, large increase
migrant – n. a person who goes from one place to another, especially to find work
coordinator – n. a person who organizes people or groups so that they work together properly and well