On this blog, 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.
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.
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.
The border visit reports are written by the volunteers who were at the border on that day.