America Is Problem Now

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A family from Sudan makes it to the Quebec border. Photo by Reuters

On this Day Without Immigrants, a painful look at what some endure not just to escape their own war-torn countries, but, now, a newly uncertain future in Trump's America. Since the election, hundreds of desperate refugees and asylum seekers from Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere have fled again, trekking for hours through frozen snowbound woods to reach Canadian border towns in Manitoba and Quebec and, they hope, safety. Coming from North Dakota, Minnesota, Montana, New York, many are lugging suitcases, strollers, plastic bags of supplies; in below zero temperatures, many also wear inadequate clothes and boots, which has led to the loss of limbs and fingers.

Officials say the unprecedented spike in those seeking to cross the longest undefended border is directly tied to Trump's so-called policies. Frightened refugees, who are sometimes briefly handcuffed before being processed and then cared for, bear them out: Says one, "When new president came in, everything changed." Many say they feel they have no choice.   "Why I have to flee, is because of Donald Trump," says another. "It's not safe, so I run."

Last weekend, so did a Somali named Mohammed. He was found hunched in the snow at 4:30 a.m. in –17 C. weather by the side of the road in Emerson, Manitoba, one of 21 refugees who reportedly arrived there Saturday. He was spotted by CBC reporter Nick Purdon, who told him he was in Canada. Wearing frozen jeans and numb with cold, fear and fatigue, Mohammed barely reacted; he said he'd been walking in the snow for 21 hours and was "not feeling well." Purdon asked him a few questions - though, dude, can't you get him warm first? - before calling the RCMP for help.

Still dazed, Mohammed stumbled to their car and drove off with them. Minutes before, he'd heartbreakingly tried to explain himself to Purdon. "I have a problem," he said. "America is (the) problem now."


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