There is perhaps no more discernible of a dichotomy between how Canada and the United States under Donald Trump are treating the most vulnerable members of society.
Bundled in winter clothing with children and luggage in tow, terrified refugees and undocumented immigrant families are fleeing the U.S. over its northeastern border into Canada to seek asylum from Trump’s anti-immigrant policies. As they cross—some even running to escape U.S. officials—Canadian authorities are responding by helping them across a snowy border ditch, grabbing their luggage, and even carrying their small children.
This may seem like a trivial gesture given that Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) immediately arrest the asylum-seekers once they are in Canadian territory. In actuality, the respect and humility shown by Canadian authorities to these Trump refugees stands in contrast to the actions of U.S. immigration authorities as of late, and it affirms Canada’s commitment to respecting human rights.
The most recent incident occurred Friday, as nine asylum-seekers—five adults and four children—thought to be from Sudan made a mad dash across the border in Champlain, New York.
One by one they scrambled across the snowy gully separating the two countries. RCMP officers watching from the other side helped them up, lifting the younger children and asking a woman, who leaned on her fellow passenger as she walked, if she needed medical care.
According to NPR, Quebec province has seen the highest number of people seeking asylum in the past month since Trump took office, at a heavily trafficked route in Champlain, NY. “They'll be walking—you'll see whole families, like two adults and like three children most of the time,” local resident Matthew Turner told NPR.
Here’s how NPR described one recent crossing this week:
One officer speaks out, saying, ‘You have to go through the, the custom, the border—but if you do cross here, you'll be arrested and then we'll take you in charge, OK?’
The woman nods and steps toward them. The Canadian policeman offers to carry her baby as she makes her way through the slippery snow path. She hands the child to him and then takes the hand of another officer who helps her to the road on the Canadian side.
According to RCMP spokeswoman Cpl. Camille Habel, Canadian police can only detain these border crossers for up to 24 hours before they must be released or taken before a judge, NPR reported.
Said Habel: “Once that we do all our checks and that we can confirm that they’re not a threat to national security, we hand them over to [the Canadian Border Service Agency] who then start the immigration process.”