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 February 2nd, 2020. Afternoon at Roxham Road, USA.
A fairly mild winter day. Today a total of 11 people crossed into Canada: 8 adults (5 men and three women) and three children.
At 4pm a taxi brought a mother and child (about 6 years old) who spoke French and gratefully took gloves and hats.
Then within about 15 minutes, four taxis arrived one after the other. The first taxi brought a man from Sri Lanka who took gloves and a hat and two English speaking men who did not want to talk with us or take anything.
The second taxi brought a mother and daughter from Lebanon. They had been able to speak with the taxi driver in Arabic and so were prepared and relaxed. They took gloves. Next a taxi brought a man who spoke neither French nor English and did not need anything from us. Finally, the last taxi arrived with a Spanish speaking family (from Latin America) comprised of a mother, father and an older son. They were friendly but did not need any warm things.
The RCMP officers behaved appropriately and also allowed taxi drivers to help passengers with their suitcases.
We now have the complete information for the year 2019.
Sunday, January 26th 2020. Afternoon at Roxham Road, USA.
A mild January day. We arrived about 3.25pm to find a photo-documentalist at the border talking with the RCMP officer. She had driven four hours to visit Roxham Road. We stayed until 5.30 pm and only two people arrived at the border.
The first person to arrive was driven by an Uber driver. She was a tall woman from Rwanda probably in her late 30's and not that warmly dressed. She was very afraid and had difficulty speaking. She accepted mits and a scarf and some hugs. We explained to her she would be arrested and that it would be a temporary measure and she did not need to be afraid of that process. She was clearly alarmed to hear this and we did our best to reassure her. She seemed to understand and made her way tentatively to the edge of the border. The RCMP officer repeated the standard protocol and at the end said it was her choice to cross or not. She seemed to freeze on the spot and was clearly distressed to hear the suggestion she ''could enter Canada legally at the Port of Entry and it was her choice''. (This is untrue as the Safe Third Country Agreement means she may very well be refused entry and returned to the USA). She spoke in a very soft voice. The officer told her that he could not tell her what to do and that it was her choice. She turned and looked back at us and we indicated that it was ok to go ahead and cross. She remained frozen in place for several more minutes and turned to us again. We repeated our encouragement and she finally and very tentatively took those few steps over the border. We felt so badly that she had to go through what feels like a kind of game, but for her was clearly a terrifying step to take on her own.
After a while a taxi pulled up bringing a man on his own with very little baggage. The taxi driver told us he had been driven by a taxi from New York City. He was a man in his 30's who said he was from Turkey. He accepted a hat, scarf and mittens and in response to a hug from one of us gave each of us a hug . He stepped up to the border and put his hands up in the air. He told the RCMP officer he was Kurdish (from Turkey) and needed to seek asylum. He crossed quickly after hearing the officer's words and all went smoothly. In both instances the officers behaved appropriately and stuck to the protocol.
Sunday, January 19th 2020. Afternoon at Roxham Road, USA.
A cold day at the border. We waited for about 20 minutes before the first taxi arrived.
It contained a young man in his early twenties from Angola who spoke fluent English. He was
not dressed for the cold and happily accepted mits, hat and scarf from us.
About 15 minutes later a young family from Columbia arrived: mother and father in their late 20's with a small child aged about 3 years old. They only spoke Spanish and there was an RCMP officer was able to communicate with them in Spanish.
Shortly after they crossed a taxi brought a very nervous man in his early 40's. He did not want to speak with us or look at us and crossed over.
Finally at about 4.20 pm a taxi brought two women who were not together but had shared the taxi. One women was a French speaker from the Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) who had a small child aged about three. The other woman spoke English but we didn't find out where she was from. They were both glad to accept some warm things. Both women had quite a bit of luggage and the RCMP officer helped them with it.
Today the RCMP officer was very courteous and kept to the protocol.
Sunday January 5th, 2020. Afternoon at Roxham Road, USA.
Happy New Year Everyone! We are continuing our border visits on Sundays. Plattsburgh Cares is going to the border the other 6 days of the week.
BnB volunteers arrived at 3:30pm right behind a shuttle taxi. Although it is a multi passenger shuttle, only one person disembarked: a tall young man from Uganda carrying a suitcase and backpack. He was wearing a light jacket and had no gloves or hat so he gratefully accepted everything on offer (there were no gloves but he was glad for the mitts). He then shook our hands and headed over to be greeted by the RCMP officers who stuck to their protocol.
After hearing their speech, he hesitated and went back to speak to the taxi driver who was still parked and watching. Then he returned and crossed into Canada. We asked the driver what he'd asked and she cheerfully replied that he had told her he was perturbed about being arrested and that made him hesitate. She told him he could go ahead.
,Sunday, December 29th 2019. Afternoon at Roxham Road, USA.
A damp grey day at the border. A total of 8 people crossed while we were there: 7 adults and one child. We arrived at about 3.20 pm and at 3.40 pm a taxi brought a man of about 30 years old from Libya who spoke only Arabic. He accepted some warm things from us. Because of the language barrier, the taxi driver had not been able to explain the process to him. The man stood at the border but did not understand what the RCMP said. He was perplexed and hesitated for a few moments. We indicated to him that it was ok to cross and he eventually did so.
Not long afterwards a taxi brought a very young woman who appeared to be about 18 years old, not that warmly dressed. She did not want to talk and went straight to the edge and crossed quickly into Canada. The third taxi brought a very tall young man in his twenties from Rwanda who seemed quite confident. He accepted a scarf from us and told the RCMP officer that he understood he would be arrested and wanted to seek asylum.
The next taxi brought four people - a family of three from Angola and a woman on her own.
The Angolan family consisted of parents and a small boy about five years old. They spoke French. The single woman spoke English and was of African origin but we were not sure which country she was from. They all accepted hats, scarves, gloves and mittens. They crossed without incident. Although the officer did say to them that if they went to the Lacolle border they could ''fill in the papers legally'' which is of course incorrect since going to the Lacolle border carries the risk of being refused entry into Canada because of the Safe Third Country Agreement with the USA.
The last person to come was a small man about fourty years of age. He may have been from South Asia. He spoke no English or French and the taxi driver said he had been unable to communicate with him. The man was very distraught and appeared terrified. Several times he made the hand gesture of cutting across his throat which we understood to mean he was afraid for his life in his home country. He literally ran across the border and the RCMP officer yelled at him to stop, but he attempted to run past the officer. The officer grappled him to the ground and kept gesturing him to calm down. As he handcuffed him, the man cried out several times, a sort of moaning sound. The officer (on his own as it was shift change and the only other officer was in the building with the other refugees) kept trying to calm him down in a kind way and led him into the building. Shortly afterwards the RCMP officer came out and spoke to us for a while, explaining that they are not supposed to handcuff people and that he did not like to do so, but that in this case he had no choice. He said that once the man was inside the building and saw the other refugees sitting calmly inside, that he too calmed down. Hopefully the man was able to speak to an interpreter once he was taken to Lacolle and will receive the help he needs in Montreal. It was clear to us that this man had suffered a great deal and had likely been traumatized by whatever events had caused him to seek asylum in Canada. The three of us, including the taxi driver were all upset by the incident, and our inability to communicate with the man and reassure him.
Sunday, December 22nd, 2019. Afternoon at Roxham Road, USA.
We arrived at Roxham at 3:25 this afternoon. There was not a soul in sight. At approximately 3:50 pm a professor from SUNY university in Plattsburgh and a photojournalist arrived just ahead of Laura's Taxi, delivering a family of 5 from Nigeria.
The family comprised a couple with an adolescent girl and two younger boys. They were wearing hats and gloves but accepted tuques and some more gloves since what they were wearing didn't fit very well. They had lots of luggage that the driver helped them with.
Shortly after the first arrival a second taxi brought a couple with a baby in a stroller. We had no chance to interact with them as we were busy handing out the extra hats etc to the first group. They went straight to the crossing and quickly went over on the heels of the first group.
The last group arrived shortly after 4pm and consisted of a couple with two children: a little boy who was not more than 2 and a baby in a stroller who was 2 months old. This family was not as well dressed as the previous two and the woman said they were from the US. They spoke French and English and it seemed likely they were Haitian. They too gladly accepted hats and mitts for the kids and gloves for the mother.
This group hesitated after listening to the RCMP but we didn't hear exactly what was said. We think they were a bit confused by the officer. Finally they crossed over. In total 12 people crossed into Canada today - 6 adults and 6 children. We left just before 5 pm.
Sunday, December 15th, 2019. Afternoon at Roxham Road, USA.
Apologies for the late posting!
It's a bitterly cold and windy day. Only two people crossed while we were there. We arrived at 3.20 pm and passed a taxi while driving down Roxham Road. We spotted a tall man carrying a backpack and a small bag walking down Roxham Road. The taxi driver, for some reason, had not dropped him off by the border but further up the road. This is not the first time we have seen this.
He arrived at the border just as we did and we were able to speak with him. He was not that warmly dressed (bomber jacket, tuque and gloves but no scarf) and accepted a scarf from us. He was from Haiti, and obviously scared in anticipation of entering Canada and being arrested. The RCMP officer was very brief and he crossed into Canada without incident.
Within five minutes the next taxi arrived bringing one woman, also Haitian, in her late thirties or early forties. A friend of hers arrived at the same time in a separate car. He had driven her all the way from Massachusetts to Plattsburgh where she had got a taxi. She happily accepted a hat, gloves and scarf and was very open with us. One of us gave her a hug and she crossed easily into Canada. The RCMP officer said little and stuck to the protocol. He did not insist she bring all her bags over the border at the same time and she was able to come back for the last item.
We stayed until 5pm and no one else arrived.
Sunday, December 8th 2019. Afternoon at Roxham Road, US.
A cold day. We arrived at 3.30pm. Seven people crossed into Canada while we were there.
The first taxi came at about 4pm bringing a woman holding a baby wrapped in a blanket. She was nervous and did not want to talk and crossed the border without a problem.
Minutes later a second taxi arrived with two men who stated that they had come from Venezuela. One of them very gratefully accepted mittens and a scarf.
5 minutes later a taxi arrived with a woman on her own. She had three suitcases and was in distress. She was crying and was not able to talk, but accepted a pair of gloves. The RCMP officer permitted the taxi driver to help with the suitcases.
Finally about twenty minutes before 5pm the last taxi arrived arrived with a couple fro Venezuela who crossed without a problem.
Most of the arrivals were well prepared for the cold but some of them accepted warm things.
Sunday, December 1st 2019. Afternoon at Roxham Road, USA.
A cold, wintry day. We arrived at about 3:30 pm and waited for about an hour.
Finally one taxi arrived, bringing two men who had got off the bus in Plattsburgh. They were from Nicaragua and Venezuela, and grateful for the scarves we gave them and for the friendly welcome. The bus had been delayed because of a snowstorm, and other buses had been cancelled according to the taxi driver.
The RCMP reception was according to protocol and relaxed/friendly. We left at 4:50 pm.
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.