Since the presidential election, a Canadian Muslim women’s shelter named Nisa Homes has become a haven for U.S. border crossers seeking asylum. In the last six months, dozens of women and children have walked across the border to use their services. Many say they are “terrified” to stay in the U.S. “They come here because they have no option — the last option they have is to come here,” says the shelter’s social worker, Yasmine Yousef.
Many of the asylum seekers are referred by refugee agencies or police services. “A lot of the [border crossers] are coming from different countries,” says Ms. Yousef. “They have access to come to the U.S. whether they have a visa to the U.S. or some sort of status. But when they get there, obviously with the hype around the president, they were terrified of staying there.”
Ms. Yousef said the shelter has received about 25 to 30 women and children who are refugee claimants. “That has been very eye-opening for us because we had no idea what a refugee claimant was [before this].”
An Afghan woman who walked over the U.S. border into Canada last December spent three months at Nisa Homes before she made a successful refugee claim in Canada. The woman had a one-year visa to visit her U.S. husband but she feared for her safety as he was abusive, and she did not feel safe in Trump’s America. “The first week I came here it was scary and disappointing because I was shocked at being detained, but now I’m happy that I not only saved my life from being killed … but I feel like I came to one of the best places on Earth.”