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, 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.
Sunday, November 24th 2019. Afternoon at Roxham Road, USA.
A cold late autumn afternoon. We arrived at 3.20 pm. While we were there five people crossed into Canada- 2 women, 2 men and one child.
First to arrive by taxi was a young man about 30 years old from Ethiopia. He was shy about taking warm things that he needed and finally accepted a hat, scarf and gloves. He was calm and crossed quickly in over the border.
Next came a Haitian women in her 30's on her own. She told us that she had been living in the US before deciding to come to Canada. She had three large bags with her and had clearly brought as many of her possessions as she could. She was dressed in a thin jacket and was happy to take some things. When we told her she would be arrested by the RCMP, she began crying and trembling. One of us gave her a hug and reassurance that this was a temporary arrest and she would be ok. The RCMP officer told her (wrongly) that ''Five kilometres from here is a Port of Entry where you can apply for refugee status.''** She became confused and turned to us, saying in French '' Can you help me? ''. We told her that crossing at Roxham was her best option. After a another moment of hesitation she crossed over.
The last taxi to arrive while we were there brought a family of three from Columbia: young parents and a daughter aged about 5 years. They only spoke Spanish and fortunately one of us was able to speak Spanish with them. They were stressed but calm. The father took a scarf. The RCMP officer was brief and to the point and they crossed without incident.
** Because of the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) between Canada and the USA, asylum seekers who try to claim asylum at a Canadian land Port of Entry are at risk of being sent back to the United States (and to be held in immigration detention there) unless they meet one of the four exceptions to the Agreement. The STCA only applies at official land Ports of Entry and not at irregular crossings such as Roxham Road. The STCA is thus the reason why people are crossing irregularly into Canada.
Sunday, November 17th 2019. Afternoon at Roxham Road, USA.
A very cold day. We arrived late at Roxham Road after being held up at the border crossing.
Only one person, a man from the Democratic Republic of Congo was already crossing into Canada. The taxi driver told us where the man had come from. We stayed until 5pm, but no one else came.
Sunday, November 10th, 2019. Afternoon at Roxham Road, USA.
We arrived at 3.30 pm and at 4.10 pm a taxi arrived bringing five people: a man on his own and a family of four ( couple and 2 children - one teenager and one about 8 years old).
The family was from Haiti and spoke little English so we spoke in French. The man my also have been Haitian. His English was good and perhaps he had lived for some time in the USA. They all took warm things and were very appreciative.
The man on his own crossed first. He was very determined in his crossing which seemed to upset the RCMP officer on duty. The officer told him to step back and listen before he crossed. Then once the man crossed over he turned back to the family and waved them to come through. This gesture got the officer very angry and he told the man that his action was a criminal offence!
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.
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.