A family of three was stopped by Canadian patrol police at Hemmingford in Quebec on Saturday morning as they illegally crossed the border from the US to apply for refugee status.

According to a report published in CBC news, the young Syrian family pushed their daughter in a stroller through the snow in about -15C weather. Their girl is about three years old. The family has been detained them, as is standard procedure with refugee claimants, it will be brought to the Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle border crossing and then to an immigration detention centre in Laval for about 48 hours.

“There’s a process to follow,” said retired provincial police officer and police affairs analyst François Doré.

“The RCMP aren’t there to treat them like bandits. They’re here to apply the law.”

After that, they will have a date before the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada tribunal.

They won’t be in custody while they wait for their tribunal date.

Observers suggest that the asylum-seekers choose to cross in the woods instead at a formal border crossing goes back to 2004 and the Safe Third Country agreement. The agreement was designed to limit the number of people claiming refugee status in Canada.

It was created so that refugee status can only be claimed in the first safe country someone arrives in. But it only holds at official border crossings. People crossing into Canada through open terrain can apply for refugee status here.