The families desperate to flee from Donald Trump's America

Hannah Thomas-Peter, New York Correspondent

At the end of a lonely country road in upstate New York, a taxi pulls up.

Five people get out and stand uncertainly in the freezing rain - two men from Yemen, a woman from Eritrea and her two small boys.

They've come to flee America through its northern border, in to Canada.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police waiting on the other side of the snowy ditch tell them they will be arrested if they cross at this unofficial border point.

They know this, but it is still scary to hear.

The group pauses, just a few feet from the border.

One man is starting to shiver in the cold.

Another explains that his visa has expired and he cannot go back to his war-torn country.

"Can you help us, please?" asks the woman as she tries to hold both her children to stop them standing in the snow, but they are wriggling and she lets one go.

He is giggling and playing next to abandoned luggage and a baby stroller from previous crossings as his mother calculates if this is going to be worth the risk.

Suddenly an officer offers the information she is waiting to hear - she will be arrested, processed, and then if all is well, released to the immigration authorities.

The two men, the woman and her sons take just a few steps over the invisible border and in to police custody, hoping to one day become a refugee in Canada.

The next morning it happens again.

Three smartly dressed men from Turkey say they want to claim asylum in Canada.

They don't speak much English but they've brought carefully written letters explaining why they want to leave.

One is a former history teacher who was arrested and harassed in Turkey.

He's been living in the States but now feels he cannot remain here.

Why not stay in America? I asked.

"Because Trump. Because Donald Trump", his friend says, shaking his head.

In just this one location these crossings are happening up to five times a day.

Up and down this vast border region thousands have done the same, the numbers increasing sharply since Donald Trump rode to power on a wave of populist anti-immigrant sentiment.

The Canadian Border Services Agency says there was a six-fold increase in refugee claims just at Quebec's border in February compared to the same month in 2016.

Nationally, the agency says that in January and February 2017 more than 2,500 people crossed over and made asylum claims.

RCMP Corporal Francois Gagnon said: "It's mostly families ... parents with kids, strollers.

"We're going to use compassion on every occasion, but definitely seeing those families crossing the border, you know it touch somewhere our hearts, you know we are all most of us fathers and mothers, so the approach is going to be softer.

For many, being detained by the Canadian police is actually the aim.

An agreement between the US and Canada prevents people from either country seeking refugee status in the other.

But if they are arrested while crossing illegally, most people are given a criminal background check and then are released and given access to housing, schools, emergency healthcare and work permits while they await immigration hearings.

Immigration lawyer and head of the Canadian Association for Refugee Lawyers Mitchell Goldberg said: "I think it's decent, I think it's the right thing to do, I think it's an investment in the future of Canadians."

By using Yahoo you agree that Yahoo and partners may use Cookies for personalisation and other purposes