Forty people were intercepted by Royal Canadian Mounted Police Officers crossing into Canada from northern Minnesota and North Dakota last week.
There's been a recent uptick in the number of people making illegal border crossings since the immigration crackdown announced by the Trump administration, with 183 people caught by RCMP officers so far in 2017.
According to Canadian Minister for Public Safety Ralph Goodale, this is higher than the last couple of years but still lower than what was seen in 2008, the Saskatoon Star Phoenix reports.
The RCMP said the 40 caught between Feb. 28 and Mar. 3 crossed the international border near Pembina, North Dakota, and Noyes, Minnesota, the Pioneer Press reports, and were apprehended in Emerson, Manitoba, about 80 miles north of Grand Forks.
No details about the nationality of the border crossers have been released, but the newspaper notes that a refugee agency in Manitoba previously reported resettling 91 people claiming refugee status between Nov. 1 and late January – more than they resettle in a typical year.
According to the Associated Press, if someone gets onto Canadian soil before being caught, they're allowed to stay and go through the refugee-claim process.
Public Radio International last month spoke with a doctor at the Canadian Centre for Refugee and Immigrant Healthcare in Toronto, Dr. Paul Caulford, who says his clinic has treated many people who have braved freezing conditions to cross the border in the past couple of months.
The overwhelming number have been of Nigerian descent, he says, and came to Canada for fear of being deported following the immigration orders issued by President Donald Trump after he took office.
MPR last month featured a story about Bashir Yussuf, a 28-year-old Somalian refugee living in Minnesota, who along with two other refugees paid a driver $600 to take them from the Twin Cities to northwestern Minnesota, and then walked three hours in freezing weather across the border.
But speaking to the Star Phoenix, Goodale said that rather than coming "purely" out of fear of the immigration crackdown, those found crossing the border illegally have done so "for a variety of reasons."
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in January, after Trump announced the controversial travel ban on refugees and travelers from 7 Muslim-majority countries, that any refugees banned from the U.S. would be welcome in Canada, PBS reported.
Maclean's reports that 1,698 people have presented themselves at Canadian borders seeking asylum so far this year, compared to just 728 during the same period in 2016. However, the 435 people who have crossed the border illegally in 2017 is about the same number as last year.