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March saw increase in number of people trying to cross Canadian border

20 April 2017

Canadian police on Wednesday said they charged a woman with human smuggling offences in connection with the asylum seekers who have been streaming over the border from the United States in growing numbers in recent months. RCMP say nine people from West Africa were intercepted last Friday while entering Canada between the North Portal and Northgate border crossings in Saskatchewan.

Michelle Omoruyi is charged with human smuggling and conspiracy to commit human smuggling. The next day, Regina police said, they were asked to help search a house in the city.

Several people in the USA have also been arrested by U.S. Border Patrol agents in connection with the case.

These nine individuals were not injured and were safely transferred to the custody of the Canada Border Services Agency.

The border town of Emerson, Man., has seen many asylum seekers walk across the border, as the province provides legal help to refugees.

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The 2004 pact, known as the Safe Third Country Agreement, forces most migrants to apply for asylum in the first country in which they arrive.

"Unfortunately one of the effects of the Safe Third Country Agreement is to provide business opportunities for smugglers, who often take advantage of the need and desperation of refugees", said Janet Dench, executive director of Canadian Council for Refugees.

The police statement said an investigation into organized human smuggling in southeastern Saskatchewan began in December after border office officers said there was evidence to suggest smugglers were bringing foreign nationals into Canada from the United States. Anyone claiming refugee status in Saskatchewan has to pay out of pocket.

They have yet to release the details of those arrests.

Although some 1,860 people have been intercepted trying to cross the border since US President Donald Trump's promise to crack down on immigration in January, the RCMP said it was the first time charges of human smuggling had been filed.

March saw increase in number of people trying to cross Canadian border