Martha Cummings-Newray said her niece, Watta Cephas, is from Liberia, but is in the United States under temporary protection status which will expire in two months.
She said Cephas was too afraid to irregularly cross the border as so many others have, so she walked up to border guards on March 5 asking for refugee protection.
“She didn’t want to get caught up somewhere where she would probably freeze to death,” said Cummings-Newray, who is also from Liberia and received her Canadian citizenship in 2011.
Because of her legal status in Canada, her niece qualifies under the family exemption of the Safe Third Country agreement between Canada and the United States.
Cephas said over the phone from Minnesota that she went to the U.S. on a visitor visa in 2014 and was allowed to stay because of the Ebola crisis in her country.
She said she spoke to a government official in February who told her that her visa would not be renewed because of the new travel ban.