On this blog page, we are posting information about our visits to the border at Roxham Road, USA side.
For more information about the purpose of these visits go to the news page.
We have also started to post our newsletters on the blog.
Sur ce blogue, nous affichons des informations sur nos visites à la frontière, Roxham Road, États Unis.
Pour plus d'info sur le but de ces visites allez sur la page nouvelles.
Aussi, nous avons commencé à poster nos infolettres sur le blogue.
Sunday November 3rd, 2019. Afternoon at Roxham Road, USA.
Arrived by 3.20 pm on a cool November day with a spattering of rain. A journalist doing a piece for
North Country PBS was on site when we arrived. In total 10 people crossed while we were there.
The first taxi brought six people - two men travelling separately and a family of four. One man was french speaking and of African origin. The other man spoke English. The family, who were from Nigeria but had been living in Philadelphia, comprised a mother and three young boys age 2, 5 and 7 years old. The children were very friendly and took hats and scarves. Their mother was very afraid and when one of us gave her a hug, she burst into tears. She and her boys crossed into Canada without incident. The RCMP officer, a woman, spoke in both languages and was friendly and polite.
Much later a second taxi brought a family of four who were from Haiti: a mother and three boys aged about 15, 10 and 8 years old. They had very little luggage and the mother had no jacket. They all took scarves, hats and some mits. The mother was also afraid and distressed and was happy to have a hug. A second RCMP officer spoke to her in French and they crossed into Canada without problem. By the time we left it was dark as the clocks had gone back.
Sunday October 27th, 2019. Afternoon at Roxham Road, USA.
We arrived at 3.20pm on a rainy day. While we were there 13 people crossed into Canada (6 women, 6 children and one man). The first taxi arrived at 4.30 pm. It brought a french speaking woman and her baby. She seemed very confident and relaxed and took a hat for the baby.
The 2nd taxi showed up about 10 minutes later bringing 3 Nigerians: two women and an adolescent who had difficulty walking. They didn't take anything. The women seemed very stressed.
The 3rd taxi came shortly after with a Haitian family: man, woman, and baby. The woman took a scarf for herself.
The last taxi came with a Colombian mother and 3 children: two adolescent girls and one young boy. They didn't take anything. The taxi also brought a woman from Nigeria.
The RCMP officer was very friendly. When the last taxi showed up another officer took over, but he too was friendly.
Sunday, October 20, 2019. Afternoon at Roxham Road, USA.
We arrived at 3.20 pm but it was not until after 4 pm that a flurry of arrivals came one after the other. In total 22 people crossed into Canada this afternoon (7 women, 8 men and 7 children – 4 boys and 3 girls). We gave out hats, mits and gloves to about half of the people.
First came a City Taxi bringing a family from El Salvador (mother, father and little boy) along with a young man (about 18) from Yemen. The taxi driver told us that he had lived his life in Saudi Arabia where his parent migrated there but had not lived in Yemen, a country consumed by a terrible armed conflict and widespread famine.
Next a taxi brought a group of people from Kashmir: a couple and a family with two children, a girl and a boy. The third taxi brought a couple with a little girl, who seemed of African origin. Next, five people arrived in one taxi: two men and a woman with a teenage boy and a young girl.
After a pause, a taxi brought a lone male passenger with quite a bit of luggage. He looked exhausted and as though he had been through a lot of hardship. He was confused by the RCMP speech but finally crossed over. During the RCMP questioning he said that he spoke Arabic.
Finally, the shuttle bus brought a woman with a young boy about 7 years old and a black woman on her own.
RCMP behaviour was mixed. One officer was kind but also said, ‘it is not legal for you to apply for asylum here’ which is incorrect (see http://www.bridgesnotborders.ca/myths-and-facts-2.html ). Another officer was belligerent and kept trying to get people to leave and go to the Lacolle Port of Entry. For anyone seeking asylum this is dangerous advice. Because of the Safe Third Country Agreement, people applying for asylum at a regular Port of Entry risk being sent back to the USA where they will be detained and will be at risk of being sent back to their homelands without proper safeguards. This could put their lives in danger.
Sunday October 13th, 2019. Afternoon at Roxham Road, USA.
On a beautiful fall afternoon there was a rush of 15 people within about 20 minutes and then no one else showed up. Friends from Plattsburgh Cares also showed up unexpectedly.
The first taxi brought a man, woman and young boy. They spoke English but we did find out what country they came from.
The second taxi had 2 men, 2 women and a child .They spoke French. Next came a taxi bringing a woman from Rwanda who shared a taxi with a man from El Salvador. The last taxi brought a group of five men. We don't know where they were from.
Everyone was treated according to protocol by the RCMP.
Sunday, October 6th, 2019. Afternoon at Roxham Road, USA
It is a mild autumn day. A total of 11 people crossed into Canada while we were at Roxham Road.
First to arrive was the small shuttle bus taxi bringing eight people: three women, one man, a teenage boy, two girls and a baby. A first family group went over, then a single woman. A mother with teenage boy and girl aged about 6 or 7 were waiting with us. The mother was tearful and very afraid. She said she was from Nigeria. They went to the border's edge and stood uncertainly as the police officer said his piece. Then the little girl moved ahead and her mother and brother followed. Several people had taken the new hand-knitted hats on offer and we put a hat on the baby's head and one little girl took finger puppets.
The second and last taxi brought three men who were not together but had shared the taxi. One was a young man about 18 years old or so and who looked south Asian. He spoke no English or French. One of the other men was shabbily dressed and looked as though he had been traumatized. He was very polite with the police officer, replying 'yes sir' and when he was told it was his choice whether to cross or not he replied in accented English : ''I have no choice. I need protection.''
We stayed another hour but no one else arrived.
Sunday, September 22nd 2019. Afternoon at Roxham Road, USA.
Arrived at the border about 3.20. Shortly after we observed a youngish woman on the Canadian side , right at the border. We asked her if she was part of the RCMP. She said that she was not . We talked a bit about our group and asked her if she was attached to a group which she denied, stating that she was observing because she was personally interested. By then we noticed that she had a small camera and asked her if she was recording which she confirmed. She remained close to the border the entire time and I heard her reporting to someone by telephone.
Shortly after four Borderline taxi arrived with a family from Nigeria, parents with four children a baby girl, a ten year old girl and two boys one almost a teenager.
Next City taxi driver brought a man from Nigeria with three children and a single woman who had a lot of baggage. The two taxi drivers left fast and did not talk. The woman on the Canadian side tried to ask questions of the refugees.
Finally , around 4.30 another taxi arrived with a very friendly driver who we had not seen before. He brought a another Nigerian couple with four children a baby girl, another girl and two boys.
The RCMP officer had given every one the same message that if they crossed at Roxham they would be arrested, that there was an official border 5 km away where they could cross ''legally'' but he did not push it and was kind and helpful around the suit cases.
When I arrived at 2:30 pm, a group of three people had just crossed, an older woman and two young people. I was unable to find out where they were from, as the taxi driver didn't know. She said they'd arrived by private car or taxi in Plattsburgh and arranged to be taken to the border by her.
At 2:40 pm, a young couple from Azerbaidjan arrived, the woman quite visibly pregnant. They were friendly, but also keen to cross, which they did without fail.
At 3:50 pm, a taxi brought two young men, one from Afghanistan and one from Yemen. Again they crossed without problems. The young man from Yemen was made to wait in front of the door to the RCMP building for a few minutes. I waved at him and wished him good luck. He waved back and put his hand on his heart. Our presence at the border, even if minimal and brief for the people who cross, does make a difference.
The taxi driver who had brought the two young men had said he had another job that he was already late for. I waited for him to arrive back, but left at 5 pm not having seen him again.
We arrived at 2:35 pm to discover a young woman sitting on the ground beside a large red suitcase looking glum. We hurried to her side with questions. She was 21 years old from Burundi and had not lived in the USA.
She spoke French first, with some English. She said she’d been dropped off down the road by the taxi driver. She said she’d checked on Google and found her way to Roxham but was confused after the officer told her it was better to go through customs. After a few minutes of discussion I suggested she stand up and take a breath and decide what to do. After a few more minutes of contemplation she grabbed her suitcase and re-presented herself. The officer who gave the spiel again suggested that she might be better off going to the main border and that she would be arrested if she crossed there. She nodded and walked on.
At 3 pm a taxi van arrived with 6 passengers: A couple with 3 girls who looked like a couple of teenagers and a pre-teen. They spoke English and were from Nigeria, the father said. The RCMP officer who addressed them said that "this is not the way to enter Canada - you can ask for asylum at the border". He said they shouldn't be taking advice from the taxi drivers. The taxi driver was still there and muttered indignantly that the "taxi driver didn't tell them nuthin." After they'd gone over, were arrested and escorted into the RCMP building, he repeated sarcastically "Don't believe the taxi drivers" and shook his head saying that the RCMP were exaggerating by saying that crossing at the border would be more efficient. He said "they're scared to death" "they're terrified of losing their kids" and "I'm on their side". He finished up his cigarette with "I hate Trump" then left advising us that more were on the way later that day...
At 4:15 pm a taxi arrived delivering a woman from Pakistan with her 3 year old son. After they were escorted into the building the taxi driver called her husband in New York to say that they'd arrived at Roxham and crossed over. The other passenger was a young Nigerian woman who'd been crying because she didn't have money. The taxi driver said he brought her anyway and claimed that he's "the only honest taxi driver". This time the officers were even more explicit in suggesting that people go to the border crossing at Lacolle, but they didn't hesitate to step into Canada at Roxham.
Altogether we gave out 2 finger puppets and 4 bracelets.
A beautiful sunny late summer day. We visited the border together with Nichola Feldman-Kiss, an artist from Toronto who is doing an art project on borders and asylum seekers. We arrived at 2.30 pm and stayed until 5pm (Nichola stayed longer).
Just after our arrival, a middle-aged woman and two young adults -- possibly mother, daughter and son -- arrived by taxi, all three from Haiti.
Later came a woman with young children, two boys and a girl, from Nigeria. Thanks to one of our volunteers, we now have knitted finger puppets in all sorts of colors and patterns to give to children, so they were happy to choose one they liked.
The third taxi brought a very friendly young man from Ghana who had lived in Columbus, Ohio, for the past three years. He had six or seven bags and suitcases, far more than he could carry across in one go. Having lined up all his luggage, he stood there for about 10 minutes, hesitating, before finally crossing over. The RCMP officer who was there told him he could go back and forth to get all his belongings, and even took two bags himself.
Sunday, August 18th 2019. Afternoon at Roxham Road, USA.
While we were at Roxham Road today, 7 refugees crossed into Canada, all adults. We were accompanied by a Masters student doing a study on border crossings and how they can be made more humane.
The first taxi brought an older couple who spoke both French and English - very nice people.
Next came a taxi bringing one man from Nigeria who looked to be about 30 years old.
Next the taxi brought a young man who had arrived at Plattsburgh Airport. He was French speaking , about 20 years of age and very tall. We did not hear where he was from.
The third arrival was a sweet young woman, maybe 20 years old who came from Ethiopia. We really wished we had more time with people to hear about their stories.
The fourth taxi dropped off two young women and at the same time a fifth taxi brought another young woman. All women we’re in their early 20’s. We were not able to find out where they were from.
The RCMP respected their protocol.
The border visit reports are written by the volunteers who were at the border on that day. There are about 15 active volunteers in our border visit committee.