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, October 9th, 2022.
A cold day with rain showers. The first taxi arrived at about 3.40 pm and brought three people: two young men in their late 20’s from Afghanistan, each carrying only small back packs. One of them put his hand on his heart acknowledging our welcome. They spoke a little English. Along with them was a woman of African origin wearing a hijab. She was very nervous and shy and it was not clear if she understood us. She took her suitcase and went to stand behind the two men at the edge of the border.
The RCMP officer gave the standard speech but unfortunately added a strong statement - NOT part of the protocol - that were they to cross into Canada they would be “committing a crime”. He stated this forcefully. Uncertain, they did not move ahead and looked at the officer. He said ''I cannot invite you into Canada.'' and repeated “you’re committing a crime’’ (see our comments below). They looked back at us. We smiled and said OK. Then the woman pushed forward between the two men to cross over and they followed.
Shortly thereafter a second taxi brought six people – three men and two women from Columbia and a man from Afghanistan. We were able to explain a bit in Spanish to the Colombians. The same officer repeated the same phrase about committing a crime. The group crossed quickly.
The last taxi brought a very young woman from Turkey who may have been under 18. She brought only a small backpack and a carrier bag. She was scared but responded warmly to our welcome and to the Turkish sign of welcome on our bibs. We were able to communicate a bit with her. A different officer addressed her at the border. He was wearing a tuque pulled down low, glasses and a dark mask. He looked intimidating, as was his body language, and it was impossible to see his face. He spoke in a harsh tone but said very little. She looked confused and looked back at us. We smiled and she crossed quickly.
In total, 10 people crossed while we were there.
Comment: No one is committing a crime; refugees are openly presenting themselves to the RCMP officers and asking for protection in Canada. Afterwards, no one is charged. Canadian immigration law is in accordance with Article 31 of the 1951 Refugee Convention that recognizes refugees must sometimes use irregular means to enter a country where they seek asylum. The RCMP informed us, at a meeting in 2018, that they arrest people under the Customs Act because - according to them - they need to have some grounds for touching people, searching them etc and then transporting them to Canadian immigration at Lacolle. The Customs Act is ‘'concerned with the regulation of imported goods, not refugee entry’'. The Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers argues that this use of the Customs Act to apply to asylum seekers is inappropriate and leads to the damning use of the word “illegal’’ being wrongfully applied to them. See the document from the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers HERE at at footnote # ii.
We arrived at Roxham at about 3:15.
An RCMP officer came out of the building to speak to us but was polite and satisfied with our explanation. We noticed that two large suitcases had been abandoned on the New York side by someone probably unable to carry all their luggage.
At about 3:45 two taxis and an Uber arrived in quick succession. With so many people on the ground at once it was impossible to speak to everyone. We counted 17 people including a family from Afghanistan with 3 small children, a young man from Haiti, a couple from Nicaragua with a baby, a young Guyanese man who told us at first that he was from the United States. Several men from the Democratic Republic of the Congo had traveled via South Africa. Everyone lined up in a very orderly fashion and waited to hear what the officer said, then everyone crossed.
Finally, the officer asked us to bring the 2 abandoned suitcases over as they knew who they belonged to and would make sure they were reunited with their owner.
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.