An Ivory Coast migrant was found suffering from severe hypothermia and near death after jumping the border from the United States into Canada, his lawyer told AFP Tuesday.
The man, whose identity has been withheld by Canadian authorities, was found “unconscious” in the snow nearly two weeks ago, “his clothes frozen stiff” after he fell through ice while crossing a river and a lake near the US border, his lawyer Eric Taillefer said.
“He still feels a residual cold and can barely move his fingers. He can’t put on shoes because his feet are still swollen and his (frostbitten) skin has turned black,” Taillefer said.
The man, who had worked as a taxi driver in New York since fleeing his native Ivory Coast in 2006, is among a wave of arrivals risking life and limb by trudging through snow and the wilderness in the dead of night to make a refugee claim in Canada.
Fearing deportation by the United States to his birth country amid a crackdown by President Donald Trump, he had first tried to make an asylum claim at a Canadian border checkpoint.
But he was denied.
An agreement with the US prevents asylum seekers from lodging claims in Canada if they first landed stateside. It only applies, however, to arrivals who pass through checkpoints.
Taillefer said he would plead for his client to be allowed to stay on humanitarian grounds, adding that a decision could take up to two years.