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.
It was a bitterly cold, windy day at Roxham. Quite quickly the first taxi arrived bringing a young man from the Democratic Republic of Congo. He did not need any clothes and moved quickly to the border and crossed without incident.
Not long after this a tax brought five people from Nicaragua : a single man and a family of four (parents with two children). The family took some clothes. A Spanish speaking RCMP officer spoke to them and they entered Canada quickly. Almost immediately another taxi brought five people from Columbia: a mother with two children -a girl about 2 years old and a teenage son - and a couple. We were able to give out quite a few things. The Spanish speaking officer again spoke with them and they crossed over.
Quickly after this, a taxi brought two single men in their late 20's, one from Afghanistan who spoke some English and one from Senegal who spoke French. We gave the Afghani man a hat and scarf. Things went smoothly.
Two taxis then arrived, one with a woman likely from Haiti and the other was a man of African origin. They moved quickly to go to the border and we did not have a chance to speak with them.
After 4 pm a family from Columbia arrived - a young couple and a 3 month old baby boy - bringing only two carrier bags and dressed very skimpily. The woman was holding the baby wrapped in a blanket. It looked like they might have arrived from the southern border and were wearing donated jackets too big for them. They were very friendly and grateful for what we could offer them including a warm hat the the baby. They crossed over without incident.
Just as we were preparing to leave, an Uber brought another family from Columbia: a couple with an 8 year old daughter. The man jumped out and shook our hands introducing himself in English. We were able to speak a bit with the mother and daughter too. He said he was afraid that the Canadian police would treat them as did the border guards in the southern USA. He also mentioned they had been shot at four times, which we -perhaps wrongfully- assumed had happened in Columbia. Again thing went smoothly at the border.
Today the RCMP officers behaved appropriately, and were not attempting unduly to discourage people from crossing. One officer was quite friendly.
Shortly after we got to Roxham Rd. at about 3:30 a taxi arrived with a Venezuelan family of four. They had been picked up at the Plattsburgh airport. Only the mother chose a hat. The dad, a little girl of about 6 years of age and her older brother declined our offer. They seemed to understand what the RCMP officer was telling them and they crossed without incident.
About fifteen minutes later another taxi brought two young men from Zimbabwe. They also crossed without incident but we noticed that they were told to put something in the garbage can on the Canadian side. One of them had his luggage searched while they were still outdoors.
Finally, a woman from Nigeria arrived by taxi. She told us that she was hoping to join her daughter who would probably be coming on a student’s visa. When the RCMP officer asked her if she had understood that she would be arrested she said "yes, no problem". He replied that in fact it was kind of a problem. He asked her if she had any food and she said "no, nothing". Then she crossed. Before they went inside it was established that she had been living in the USA for six years.
In total five adults and two children crossed. It was a chilly day but only one hat was accepted. Everyone seemed to be adequately dressed.
The two later taxis had come from the bus stop.
As far as our crossing into the US goes, we had been warned by last Sunday's volunteer that she’d had to deal with a surly American border guard. I just wanted to report that we were practically waved through by a pleasant gentleman. Toss of the dice I guess.
There was a line up to cross into the USA from Hemmingford. The US Border Patrol asked a lot of questions and wanted to make sure I knew that 'interfering with Border Patrol was a criminal offense.'
I only arrived at Roxham at 3:40. The RCMP officers told me one woman and child had crossed a few minutes earlier.
At 3:45 a taxi van came with a family (woman, man and two small children), a couple and one single man. They all spoke Spanish. They refused to make eye contact with me and hurried to line up at the border. When the RCMP officer said it was illegal to cross, they looked back at the taxi driver who nodded and they crossed.
At 4:10 another taxi came. Two young men were quickly dropped off and the taxi sped away. All they carried was one small backpack each. They spoke neither English or French. Once they crossed the RCMP managed to determine they spoke Persian.
A pleasant autumn afternoon. Seasonably warm.
The first taxi arrived at about 3.40 pm bring four men. Two were related - an adult son and his father, from Columbia. A third was a young Venezuelan man and a fourth was a man of African origin, English speaking. They crossed quite quickly into Canada.
The second taxi brought a family from Nigeria - mother, father, a 10 month old baby on the mother's back, a girl about 6 years old and a boy about 11 years old. They had likely come directly from Nigeria and had a lot of luggage. The father was very anxious to manage all of it. We helped the girl and boy to organize carrying backpacks and some smaller luggage. The officer was very insistent that they must bring all the luggage over in one go and could not go back over the border to get more. This is of course very stressful for a family with heavy bags. It has always seemed nonsensical to impose this on refugees. They bring what they can in order to be able to start a new life with at least some of their belongings. According to the taxi driver he has seen an RCMP officer who actually goes across into the US to help people bring their luggage over, more than once! This was a heartening piece of news. In the end the family crossed into Canada without incident, the woman saying God bless you to us as she crossed.
In a short while the final taxi came from the bus station bringing a Haitian woman. She had very little baggage and was very nervous. We were able to reassure her and she marched bravely to the edge. The RCMP officer said very little and the woman crossed into Canada.
In all we saw only 10 people today - 7 adults and three children.
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.