EMERSON, MAN — The Emerson fire department rescued 17 asylum seekers, including a 16-month-old baby, from a storage shed during a winter storm Wednesday morning.
The group was taking shelter as a major storm blew through the area. The temperature felt close to -30 C with the windchill in the southern Manitoba town.
Firefighters said the 16-month-old is in good health. One member of the group was taken to hospital with a broken arm.
WATCH: Emerson Fire Chief breaks down morning call to rescue 17 asylum seekers
Two more asylum seekers also crossed the border Tuesday night at 8 p.m.
All 19 were taken to the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) to be processed.
The town’s reeve, Greg Janzen said he cannot believe the group made the trek during the winter storm.
“We had this in a blizzard, of all things it was probably one of the windiest blizzards we’ve had all winter…. and they come across where it’s literally zero visibility.”
Why are they crossing in what looks like the middle of nowhere?
Canada and the U.S. signed an agreement 15 years ago effectively forcing refugee claimants to request protection in the first safe country they land. The agreement prevents claimants who were refused in one country from hopping the border to try in the other, or from claiming in both.
The agreement, called the Safe Third Country Agreement, applies only to refugee claimants trying to get into Canada from the U.S. at land border crossings, by train and at airports.
U.S. President Donald Trump made clear his administration’s feelings toward immigrants and refugees when he signed an executive order temporarily banning travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries and pausing the refugee system – with the plan to keep Syrians from entering the country indefinitely.
A judge has since blocked the implementation of key parts of the travel ban, but Trump has assured the public his office is coming back with a similar move against immigrants and refugees.