They come through forests and farmers fields, in Quebec, Manitoba and the Prairies. Sometimes alone, sometimes with children and luggage, migrants are crossing into Canada from the United States. This isn’t unprecedented, or even particularly rare: there’s always been a slow trickle of would-be refugees and asylum-seekers slipping over the border. But hundreds have crossed already in 2017, at a rate far in excess of what we’ve seen in recent years.
Every migrant would have their own story, their own explanation of why they came. So far, it seems that they are running from fears there will be a crackdown on refugees and migrants under U.S. President Donald Trump. Or a ramping-up of deportations for illegal immigrants. Some of them may simply be seeking a more comfortable life in a country that has lately loudly advertised itself as a kinder, gentler analogue to its larger neighbour to the south. In any event, they are coming, and local jurisdictions are struggling to cope.
More police and border guards have been sent to remote areas well away from official crossing points. Small border communities, often little more than hubs for local farms, are having to establish shelters for those who arrive with only what they can carry. Private citizens are awoken in the dead of night by migrants knocking on their doors, asking if they’re in Canada and if they can come in out of the cold.
This is not a crisis, yet. It seems to be currently straddling a position somewhere between an inconvenience and a novelty, at least for those whose fields aren’t now transit corridors. But this is also happening in the dead of winter. The crossing will only get easier and more tempting as spring arrives and the weather warms. The trickle may turn into a flood.