Sarnia mayor worried about refugees crossing illegally in warmer weather

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Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley worries refugees will soon be trying to cross into Canada illegally through southwestern Ontario communities as warm weather rolls into the region.

Bradley supports the country's immigration policies, but said he feels any illegal activity on the border will decrease public support for people seeking asylum.

"As we move into spring and as the tensions in the U.S. accelerate, we're going to see many more refugees coming our way," he told CBC's Afternoon Drive host Peter Duck. "The federal government should really prepare itself."

There has been a surge in refugees seeking asylum in southern Ontario by way of the United States since President Donald Trump took office. More than 400 refugees a month started showing up at the province's five border crossings.

In January alone, 433 refugees showed up at Ontario border crossings, compared to 175 refugees in the same month in 2015. That figure is a 147 per cent increase.

Trump policies behind border push

Windsor, Ont. lawyer Eddie Kadri directly attributes the spike to Trump's immigration policies.

​"You're seeing a direct correlation between the rise in refugee claims and the new administration's policies," Kadri told CBC News when the latest border numbers were released.

The Detroit and the St. Clair rivers pose as difficult barriers to illegal entry in cooler temperatures, but making the crossing in warmer weather will likely be tempting for people in desperate situations, Bradley explained.

He expects an increasing number of refugees will be heading to Canada as people realize others have successfully gained access.

"I'm not being alarmist. I think the federal government is underestimating how this thing will grow," Bradley said. "When word gets around -- and people exploit that, unfortunately -- it can grow very quickly."