On this blog, we used to post information about our visits to the border at Roxham Road, USA side.
Since the closure of Roxham Road on Friday 24 March 2023, we're attempting to keep a log of the info we have about refugees who have been returned to the US.
Sur ce blogue, nous avons affiché des informations sur nos visites à la frontière, Roxham Road, États Unis. Depuis la fermeture de Roxham Road le vendredi 24 mars 2023, nous essayons de tenir un répertoire des informations que nous avons cueillies sur les réfugiés qui ont été renvoyés aux États-Unis.
Sunday July 29th, 2018. 2.30 pm - 4.30 pm. Roxham Road, USA.
A hot sunny day. A total of 24 people crossed into Canada which is the most we have seen in many weeks. First came a taxi with an Asian family of three (mother, father and girl aged about 8 years old) and a single man of African origin. They crossed without incident. Next came two taxis with a group of 10 people from the Democratic Republic of Congo: three women, three teenagers (2 girls and one boy) and four small children including one baby. They were happy to take cups of water on offer. They too crossed without incident. Both times the RCMP stuck to their protocol.
Next came a single young man in his early 20’s. When we spoke to him he did not appear to understand us. He looked very anxious and fearful and walked straight across the border passing by the RCMP officer who shouted “Stop!” and when the young man continued he shouted “Stop!” again and became very angry yelling at the man: “You f**king stop when I tell you to stop! Don’t you f**king come here like it’s your place, you are f**king under arrest,”. He then took the young man into the building and slammed the door after them. We spoke with the taxi driver who had brought the man. The driver said that he had attempted to explain to the young man that he needed to wait at the border until the RCMP spoke to him but that the man did not speak enough English to understand the instructions.
Next a taxi arrived with a group of people from Zimbabwe: two men, a woman, a teenage girl and a baby of 13 months. They took water to drink and then crossed without incident and the same RCMP officer stuck to the protocol. Finally, a family of four from Mali arrived: mother, father, a boy of about 4 years old and a year-old baby. They had to struggle to get their luggage across the border in one go. Although it is not part of their protocol, the RCMP asked them where they were from. First the man replied “New York” and then when asked again, said they were from Mali. They then crossed into Canada.
Sunday July 22nd, 2018. Afternoon. Roxham Road, USA.
BnB volunteers were present from 2:30 - 4:00 pm. Seven people crossed.
At 3 pm a single man, who spoke English, came by taxi. His crossing was quick and smooth.
At 3:45 a taxi and a mini van arrived. An older, probably Haitian woman, emerged from the taxi. She hesitated when she was told she would be arrested and spent 5 minutes listening to the RCMP who kept saying 'go to Lacolle, you will be sent back if you cross here.'
The family (woman, man and pre-school child) who came in the mini van were right behind her. They listened to what was being said to the lone woman and then began crossing ahead of her. That was when the older woman decided to cross.
Finally a Spanish speaking man and woman arrived. When they were asked what language they spoke, the RCMP officer called his supervisor who spoke to them in Spanish. They quickly crossed.
Sunday July 15th, 2018. Afternoon. Roxham Road, USA.
Crossing the border we were asked many questions as to why we were going to Roxham Road, including asking if we were reporters.
We arrived at 2.35pm just as a taxi was leaving. We asked the RCMP Officers but they did not want to tell us how many people had been in the taxi. They asked us questions about why were were there and what we were doing.
At 3.45pm a taxi arrived with a Nigerian man and woman. The woman was quite nervous but smiled at our welcome and gratefully took some ice cold water. No one else came.
Sunday July 8th, 2018. Early afternoon. Roxham Road, USA
It's another exceptionally hot day in the midst of a heat wave. We arrived armed with water and cups. Only one taxi and one person arrive while we are here. At 3.30pm a young woman in her early 20's leaves the taxi and walks straight for the border, looking terrified. She does not want to stop or take any water.
She approaches the RCMP officer who says: 'Arrêt ! Arrêt!' She kept on going and then stops. He tells her in an angry tone (in French): 'When I tell you to stop, that means stop. What did you think I meant?' Her response was very quiet. He then asks ' What country do you come from?' She says Haiti. He then asks ' When was the last time you were in Haiti? How long have you been in the US?' She said she had been there for six months. In an unpleasant tone he pointed to the notice at the border and told her the protocol (it is illegal to cross here. You will be arrested etc). He then said 'It's your choice.' She said she understood and she was able to cross into Canada.
Sunday, July 1st 2018. Afternoon. Roxham Road USA
It was a sweltering hot humid day and we came prepared with cool lemon water and glasses to offer the refugees some refreshment. No one came this afternoon.
We have since found out that ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents are doing road checks and boarding buses and trains in areas around the border with Canada, to check on people's immigration status and to detain undocumented people. As a result people may be starting to avoid taking buses to Plattsburgh. Taxi drivers in Plattsburgh report fewer clients going to Roxham Road. Asylum seekers may also be afraid to travel with their children fearing that they will be separated from them if arrested by ICE agents. We are following this up.
Sunday June 24th 2018. Afternoon. Roxham Road , USA
Just as we arrived at 3:30 pm we saw two taxis leaving from the border so we were not there in time to greet the refugees. We could see 3 or 4 people of African origin who had already crossed into Canada and were following the RCMP officers into the building. We could not see if they were women or men. No one else came that afternoon.
We had a few questions about the nature of our intention to "welcome the refugees" when crossing into the US. One of the officers on the passenger side commented to the one questioning us that this was funny that we would welcome people to do something 'illegal'. In fact, under Canadian and international law, it is not illegal to cross irregularly as long as you report to an immigration official.
The earlier border visit reports were written by the volunteers who were at the border on that day, the later updates about the situation in the US are an attempt to keep a log of what we find out through our own visits in the US, or through contacts in the US.