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.
It was a short but busy visit. Within 20 minutes five taxis arrived.
A young man jumped out of the first taxi, kept his head down and crossed. He did not stop despite being asked several times by the RCMP. He was ’strongly guided’ by two officers and taken into the building.
The four other taxis brought 3 young men, a group of 5 (2 men, 2 women and one girl about aged 5), a family with 3 children aged approximately 4-12, and a group of 3 (2 young men and a woman).
I was only able to speak briefly with the last group. They were not family but had been traveling together and spoke Arabic.
I spoke with each taxi driver about the need to tell people to stop when the police tell them to.
The RCMP followed their protocol.
The only other observation was that one of the men in the third taxi apparently paid the driver $20 saying he had no more money. He had been told the cost before boarding at the bus station. The taxi drivers said this happens occasionally. They were not clearly not pleased but did not stay to argue with the man.
There was a very friendly RCMP agent who came out to tell us that there had been 90 people who crossed in the morning.
At 3:20 pm one taxi brought seven people (ages are approximate):
3 men between 20 and 30, none of the men spoke.
2 young women, one with a girl (10) and young child (3). The women spoke Spanish and were crossing by themselves with the children.
Not sure of the country they came from.
At 3:30 pm an unmarked taxi (had a number on it? The taxi did not come right up to the border and the driver did not get out of the car.)
1 man from Nicaragua (25) who spoke only Spanish, with just a small bag. He hesitated a little before crossing.
At 4:00 pm one taxi
1 woman (25) + two children girl (4 ) and baby (1)
1 woman (35)
Both women were from Haiti and French speaking
4:20 pm big yellow van, taxi
1 man (20) from Jamaica
1 family from Pakistan consisting of a woman (35), a man (35)
+ girl (10) + boy (7) + boy (4) who spoke English
1 man (35) with two children, a girl (7) and a baby in stroller (1), from Columbia
1 man from Haiti (20), who spoke French
(12 people in the van including 2 drivers)
RCMP were polite, not intimidating. One officer spoke Spanish, one let a woman go back for a large suitcase. They were quite patient on the whole and spoke calmly but clearly.
I brought water bottles with me (6) and gave them all out. I was glad to have something with me to give to them. The water was appreciated. In total 21 adults and children arrived while we were there.
A warm late summer’s day. Some 26 people crossed during our visit.
At 3.20 pm a yellow taxi brought a small family from Haiti: a couple with a little girl about 6 years old. The woman was very friendly and seemed to appreciate the welcome. The little girl smiled. At that time there were five officers on the Canadian side but one left. They behaved appropriately and neutrally. The family hesitated briefly and then crossed over. After we heard the officer ask them where they were from. They said that the couple were Haitian nationals but the little girl was a Chilean national indicating that this couple had made the long journey to Canada via South America, Central America, Mexico and the US.
About 30 minutes later three taxis, including two vans, brought about 20 people including five children, four women (one was pregnant) and the rest were men of different ages, mostly in their 20s and 30s. One of the taxi drivers told us that 13 people out of this group had come from Vive Shelter in Buffalo. Most of the people spoke Spanish and came from Columbia and Venezuela, and a few were African francophones, likely from West Africa and/or the Democratic Republic of Congo. The police officers behaved professionally and one young officer in particular was considerate as he checked IDs etc outside the tent.
Shortly after this group entered Canada, a taxi brought a young Hispanic couple who crossed quickly. Finally at 4.20pm a last taxi arrived bringing a young woman from Zimbabwe. She too crossed without incident.
We arrived at Roxham shortly after 3:00 PM. After waiting in the car for about 15 minutes, several RCMP officers came out of their building and gestured for us to come forward. Addressing us in a very aggressive tone, the older officer wondered what we were doing. I said we were waiting for refugees to arrive. He continued to quiz us about our nationality, our intentions etc.. I explained that we were Canadian volunteers with Bridges not Borders who were only there to observe and offer best wishes to the asylum seekers. He expressed total ignorance of our group. His tone and demeanor changed considerably when I mentioned that we had recently met with the Staff Sargent in charge of Roxham Road installation. There were no further questions and we returned to our car. While we waited we wondered what authority the RCMP has over people sitting quietly on the US side of the border.
At 3:40 a private car carrying a young Haitian couple arrived. Six RCMP exited the building but they stuck to protocol and were polite.
A couple minutes later a taxi arrived with a man and woman, their two children about ages 8 and 3 and another young couple in their twenties, all from Haiti. They crossed without any trouble.
Finally, shortly before 4:00, a large taxi bearing several Colombian families pulled up. We greeted a young woman with her two young children, a man and woman in their 30's, a teenage girl and another woman with 2 young children. They spoke very little English and were uncertain of what they should do at the border. Fortunately one of us had enough Spanish vocabulary to explain that they would be arrested and to wait until the officer addressed them before crossing. One of the six RCMP was able to speak some Spanish. They had a lot of baggage and we were afraid that they might not be able to manage in one trip. We explained that they would not be able to return for their bags. It was a bit of a struggle but all crossed calmly and the RCMP were not aggressive.
It was a very hot day. One of us had the foresight to bring some bottled water to offer. As much as we try to avoid using bottled water, it was appreciated by several people.
Upon our return to Canada the border guard obliged us to pull up to the building for further scrutiny. The trunk and back seat were searched and we were asked if we ever transported items or documents for refugee claimants. We don't, and said so, and expressed once again the purpose of our visit to Roxham. Had the RCMP called Border Services to check up on us? I guess we'll never know.
The border visit reports are written by the volunteers who were at the border on that day.