New Brunswick saw spike in refugee claimants at U.S. border in 2016

Last year saw more refugee claimants in the only Atlantic province bordering the U.S. than the four previous years combined

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FREDERICTON — The number of refugee claimants crossing into New Brunswick from the United States saw a significant increase last year.

According to figures released by the Canadian Border Services Agency, there were 23 refugee claimants at the border in 2016, which was more than the previous four years combined.

Officials have said a growing number of people are choosing to walk across the border into Canada to claim refugee status, including dozens who have been arrested in the Emerson area of Manitoba in recent weeks.

The tactic is a way to avoid the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement, which prevents most people who have been living in the United States from making a refugee claim at an official border crossing on the premise that they are already somewhere safe.

Communications staff at the Canadian Border Services Agency would not speculate if Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S. has had any impact on the numbers in New Brunswick, the only Atlantic province that borders on the U.S.

They declined an interview and would not provide a breakdown of the numbers to show how many people claimed refugee status at recognized border points in New Brunswick and those stopped by the RCMP at remote locations.