Fearful of Trump's America, US citizens stream into Canada


From here, it is steps across a gully to the Canadian province of Quebec, where police stand ready to arrest anyone who enters illegally.

Undeterred, the travelers drag their suitcases across a makeshift dirt bridge, past a sign that declares in French and in English, "No pedestrians," and surrender to the waiting officers.

They are part of a surge of asylum seekers who have been streaming into Canada in recent months, hoping for refuge from the United States.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police intercepted nearly 3,000 of the asylum seekers at this one illicit crossing in July, nearly four times the number apprehended in June. In the first two weeks of August, 3,700 more were taken into custody.

"We've never seen such numbers coming in," Claude Castonguay, a spokesman for the force, told reporters. "They're unprecedented."

Though the numbers have dropped in the last few weeks, the influx has strained Canada's immigration and refugee services, leaving officials scrambling to find places to shelter them all and causing monthslong delays in the processing of asylum claims.

Canadian authorities set up tents at the border and installed rows of cots at the Montreal Olympic stadium — a jarring sight for many Canadians, who say the scenes are reminiscent of a war zone. Schools, conference halls and an abandoned hospital were also converted into temporary shelters for the migrants.

The Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is welcoming the refugees.

Buddy Hampton, an 80-year-old drummer from Hemmingford, the community on the Canadian side of the border where most of the migrants are arriving, said that he sympathized with those seeking a better life in Canada.

Government officials have taken to the press and social media in recent weeks to try to dispel the notion — common among the migrants — that anyone who requests asylum in Canada will automatically receive permanent residence.

"You will not be at an advantage if you choose to enter Canada irregularly," Trudeau said at a news conference. "You must follow the rules, and there are many."

Police say they first noticed an increase in illegal crossings around the time of the U.S. election in November, and many of the asylum seekers say they have lost hope in the American dream as long as President Trump remains in office.

So many people are using this spot that the Canadian police set up tents on their side of the frontier to search the migrants and verify they don't pose a threat. The tents are staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As the nights started getting cooler, heating was added. If the influx continues, there are plans to replace the tents with trailers.

From there, the migrants are loaded into minivans for the 10-minute drive to the nearest official port of entry at St. Bernard de Lacolle, where the army set up more tents to house them while they wait to file asylum claims — a process that was taking up to four days at the height of the influx. Eventually they are bused to shelters in Montreal, where they complete the application process and are given help finding more permanent housing.

Although crossing at Roxham Road is illegal, the exchanges that take place there between police and migrants have the feeling of a well-rehearsed script.

A Canadian officer calls out to him in French and in English. The legal port of entry is three miles away, the officer says. This is an illegal crossing point. If he crosses here, he will be arrested.

"I prefer to go to prison," the man tells the officer.

Others seem confused by the officer's warning and hesitate. But eventually, almost everyone crosses, some with their hands in the air.

The migrants know that if they request asylum at an official port of entry, they will be turned back and told to apply in the U.S.

In a quirk of international law, once the migrants set foot on Canadian soil, legally or not, they can apply for designation as refugees there.

Word spread quickly on social media about how easy it is to enter Canada here.

Because of the summer surge, the wait time for a hearing to determine whether an asylum claim is eligible for consideration has stretched from days to months. A final decision could take a year or longer.

"Here, they welcome us. They give us food, a place to stay. I want to spend the rest of my life here!" said Paul from Pittsburgh.

In a few days, Paul who gave only his first name was expecting to collect his first government assistance check — typically about $670 a month for a single person or $1,200 for a family of four — and move into an apartment.

Now that the influx has slowed, Canadian authorities are no longer housing people at the stadium. But they say as many as 100 asylum seekers still show up every day at the Quebec border.

There was a time when Paul would have advised his friends that America is #1. But not anymore, Paul said as he unloaded their luggage. "America has changed."

Americans Renouncing Citizenship at Record High
By Suzanne Woolley

The number of Americans renouncing their citizenship rose to a new record of 5,411 last year, up 26 percent from 2015, according to the latest government data.


It all goes back to the Civil War, and to a tax meant to deter potential draft dodgers from leaving the U.S. Today, the goal is to make sure that all of the income of U.S. citizens, whether they live and work in the U.S. or not, is reported to the Internal Revenue Service.

The rules got trickier in 2010, when, in an effort to cut down on tax evasion, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (fabulously, Fatca, for short) was passed into law. It basically said foreign institutions holding assets for U.S. citizens had to report the accounts or withhold a 30 percent tax on them if the information wasn't provided. That led some foreign banks to shy away from opening accounts for expats. 

Since Fatca came into being, annual totals for Americans renouncing citizenship have reached their four highest historic levels.

Among the names on the list of those bidding adieu to the U.S. and its tax code is the U.K.'s foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, who was born in New York. Boldface names from years past (some really past) include the torch song master Josephine Baker, the actor Yul Brynner, the great soprano Maria Callas, businessmen Kenneth and Robert Dart, investor Mark Mobius, and Eduardo Saverin, a co-founder of Facebook.

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Do yourself a favor. Think for yourself. Be your own person. Question everything. Stand for principle. Champion individual liberty and self-ownership where you can. Develop a strong moral code. Be kind to others. Do no harm, unless that harm is warranted. Pretty obvious stuff...but people who hold to these things in their hearts seem to be disappearing from the earth at an accelerated rate. Stay safe, my friends. Thanks for being here.  

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