Declining number of asylum seekers surprises reeve of Manitoba border town – Manitoba

The reeve of the Manitoba town that’s been the backdoor to Canada for asylum seekers entering Canada from the U.S. wonders if the recent discovery of the body of a Ghanaian woman has scared refugee claimants from making the trek across the border.

Preliminary statistics released by the federal government late Friday show a decline in the number of asylum seekers who’ve been intercepted by the RCMP in Manitoba for the month of May.

Just 106 people were taken into custody in the province by the RCMP in May compared to 146 the month before, 170 in March and 142 in February.

‘Not as safe as they think it is’

The total number of border crossers caught by the RCMP now sits at 583 as of Friday, but the figure doesn’t include asylum seekers who weren’t processed by Mounties and were able to get into Winnipeg without getting taken into custody.

“I didn’t expect May to be that slow,” said Emerson-Franklin Reeve Greg Janzen adding he wonders if the death of Mavis Otuteye has scared border crossers from making the trek into Canada.

“It’s not as safe as they think it is,” Janzen said. U.S. border officers found Otuteye, a Ghanaian woman, dead in a ditch near the Canada-U.S. border in Noyes, Minn. on May 26.

CBC learned after her death that Otuteye was living in the U.S. on an expired visitor’s visa and was on her way to Toronto to visit her newborn granddaughter.

From left, Rita Chahal, executive director of Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council, Greg Janzen, reeve of Emerson-Franklin, Tara Seel, RCMP and Jeryn Peters, Canada Border Services Agency chief of operations speak to media after an emergency meeting in in Emerson, Man. Thursday, Feb. 9, 2016. (John Woods/The Canadian Press)

Janzen said her death has raised a lot of questions for his council. “Are we going to have more people perishing?”

Winnipeg immigration lawyer Dean Szikinger is representing some asylum seekers who’ve walked over the border and said while many thought numbers would go up…

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