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06-2022

Justin Trudeau condemns ‘human traffickers’ in response to death of four near US-Manitoba border

Justin Trudeau condemns 'human traffickers' in response to death of four near US-Manitoba border

The bodies of four Indian nationals killed while trying to cross the US border were found about 10 kilometers east of Emerson, Maine. on Wednesday afternoon.John Woods/The Canadian Press

Prime Minister Justice Trudeau says the four people killed in the icy, snow-covered fields of southern Manitoba while attempting to cross the US border this week are “victims of human traffickers, misinformation and people’s own desire to build better.” Have taken advantage of life.”

“That’s why we’re doing everything we can to discourage people from trying to cross the border by irregular or illegal means,” he said in French, speaking about the deaths at an unrelated news conference on Friday. “We know there are great risks in doing this.”

The four victims – described by the RCMP in Manitoba as a man, a woman, an infant and another man – have not been publicly identified but are believed to be Indian citizens. An RCMP spokesperson said no information about the case is expected to be released until next week.

Four killed in blizzard near US-Manitoba border

Indian High Commissioner to Canada Ajay Bisaria called the deaths a tragedy, and said on Twitter that an Indian consular team is traveling to Manitoba and will work with Canadian authorities to investigate.

India’s External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar tweeted that he was shocked by the deaths. “Ask our ambassadors in the US and Canada to respond promptly to the situation,” he wrote.

The RCMP found the bodies about 10 kilometers east of Emerson, Maine, on Wednesday afternoon. The search began when border officials in the United States encountered a group of people crossing the border, saying that a family they had been traveling with had been separated en route.

It was very cold at that time, with blizzard conditions and gusts of wind, the temperature reached -40 C. There is no shelter in the remote rural area.

A 47-year-old man from Florida, Steve Shand, is facing a charge for allegedly transporting unspecified people to the United States. A criminal complaint filed in the courts says US officials suspect Mr. Shand to be part of a larger human-smuggling operation at the border. Mr Shand, who listed his business as a taxi and Uber driver in a 2018 bankruptcy filing, will appear in a Minnesota court on Monday.

The Emerson area has been the site of significant illegal cross-border activity in recent years, and travel is particularly treacherous in winter.

While publicly known cases in the past have involved people traveling north from the United States looking for asylum in Canada, a spokesperson for the United States Border Patrol said in an e-mail that people are traveling the other way. “For a wide range of reasons” too.

According to documents filed in Mr. Shand’s case, one of the men who moved across the border told US officials that he paid a significant amount to come to Canada under a fraudulently obtained student visa, then illegally enter the United States. Was planning to enter and visit a relative’s house in Chicago. He said the group had driven 11½ hours south across the border, and were hoping to be picked up on the other side.

The document states that all travelers entering the United States speak Gujarati, the language of western India. Two were treated for frostbite and exposure, one woman was in critical condition and required partial amputation of her hand.

After news of four deaths emerged on Thursday, Indian Association of Manitoba president Ramandeep Grewal began reaching out to Manitoba’s Indian population – which he estimates is around 50,000 – to help those who knew or identified the victims. Anyone who can help get it. in contact.

Mr Grewal said he was unaware that any Indian in Manitoba had previously attempted such a border crossing, but that exploitation of recent arrivals from his home country had been a serious problem since 2016. Is.

Earlier, he said, his union may receive a message in a month or two from anyone in India interested in information about moving to Canada. Now, they ask an average of about 100 questions monthly – many from potential students hoping to obtain a student visa. (India is Canada’s top source country for international students).

Some Indians, who have paid large sums of money to recruiters, will receive an offer of admission to a post-secondary institution in Canada and then write to Mr. Grewal’s organization to inquire about the school.

“Sometimes when you do a Google search on one of these colleges, it looks fake,” he said. “They’re just shops and they want people to give them money, and they give them visas or diplomas.” His organization is one of several across Canada that have called for widespread fraud and exploitation in the industry of international student recruitment.

Three months ago, Mr Grewal met with Calvin Goertzen, the then interim Prime Minister of Manitoba and now Minister of Justice, to inquire about student visas on his organization or work permits underpaid by their Canadian employers being obtained by his organization. To discuss the huge number of allegations made. They are being given the hours they were promised. Others, he said, were work permits sold illegally.

“We get a lot of information about new students and people exploiting freshmen,” he said. “Financial abuse is sexual abuse.”

He was told that the government planned to investigate these allegations. Mr Goertzen’s office did not respond to a request for comment on Friday.

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