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.
Sunday December 17th, 2017 3.45 – 4.45 pm. Roxham Road, Champlain, NYS
A very cold day. It's at least -15C. 13 people crossed into Canada: a single woman, a French speaking woman - likely Haitian - with four children, an older Afghan man with his daughter and a child, three people from Nigeria and finally a single man. We witnessed a disturbing incident as RCMP/police attempted to handcuff a young teenage boy from the Haitian family of five. He was pushed up against a truck and they tried to handcuff him. He broke away and was then pushed to the ground, restrained by 3 officers and handcuffed. His mother was pushed onto the ground after she appeared to be attempting to go to her son and, with an officer’s knee in her back while her face was pushed on the icy road, was handcuffed by three officers. The other three children stood looking with shock on their faces. Because we were on the USA side of the border we could not hear the exchange between the boy and the officers and do not know what prompted these actions. He had appeared to be cooperating as they patted him down.
Our friends from Plattsburgh Cares have never witnessed any incident like this: they have been going about 4-5 times a week since the spring. Also as per the observations of Plattsburgh Cares (and ourselves during 4 previous visits) no one has been seen being handcuffed for some time, since the tents were first installed at Roxham Road and more recently the heated trailer (roulotte). After being patted down people usually go into the trailer. We are going to try to set up a meeting with the RCMP to discuss this incident and ask about their protocols and officer training regarding their work at the border.
Additional info (September 2019):
Since this disturbing incident, we have met with the RCMP a number of times and established a good connection with them. They now do train the officers that will work at Roxham Road, and they are also very good at following up observations that we report to them. We do feel that on the whole, the treatment of refugees by the RCMP has changed to the better.
Sunday, December 10th, 2017, 3.45pm. Roxham Road, Champlain, NYS. A very cold afternoon. 13 people (women and children) crossed into Canada, all of Sub Saharan African origin, arriving in three separate vehicles. First a young French speaking woman arrived on her own in a taxi. The RCMP officer repeatedly (4-5 times) told her to go to the official border crossing at Lacolle and questioned her extensively about where she came from how she knew about Roxham road, why she was crossing at Roxham etc. She told him she had no family in Canada and he still told her she would be OK crossing at Lacolle border. Next came the Plattsburgh Airport shuttle with three family groups: a woman with a baby and a teenage daughter (who was very happy to get a pink hat and scarf!), another woman with a baby and two young children and a third woman with a baby and a young child. One of the women spoke French and the other two English. A second RCMP officer also told them to go to Lacolle border crossing but insisted less than the first. Finally a woman with a small baby arrived in a taxi. She was able to cross over before the officers came out of their trailer, so she was not questioned or told she would be arrested.
Sunday December 3rd, 2017. Roxham Road, Champlain NYS. 3.45 - 4.45pm. It was a milder day. About 21-22 people crossed into Canada. Everyone appreared to be of sub-Saharan African origin. They came in four different arrivals. First was a single man from Nigeria who arrive in a taxi. Next was the shuttle from Plattsburgh Airport that brought two families: one family of four (parents and two children under 10) and another family of five (parents, an adolescent and two younger children). A taxi then brought three adults (one women, two men) and an adolescent. Finally two taxis arrived carrying three women, two adolescents and a small child. We did not hear the RCMP try to re-direct any of these refugees to the Lacolle border.
Tuesday, November 28th, 2017. Roxham Road, Champlain NYS. A bitter cold wind blew at the border as the sun was going down. We met with a member of Plattsburg Cares. There was also a reporter from Vermont Public Radio doing a story about the refugees. He spoke with some of the five people (four men, one woman) who arrived in three taxis. Three people identified their countries of origin as: Yemen, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi. The man from Yemen, wearing only a hoodie, hestiates and then accepts a warm hat saying God Bless You. All five people crossed into Canada. Here is the link to the Vermont Public Radio coverage from that day: digital.vpr.net/post/other-side-roxham-road-canada-grapples-border-refugees#stream/0
Thursday, November 16, 2017. Roxham Road, Champlain, NYS. Four members of Bridges Not Borders met with a member of Plattsburg Cares at the USA side of Roxham Road. During the hour we spent there, two refugees crossed into Canada. The first person to arrive was a woman from Eritrea some 50-60 years old, who had been living in the southern USA for many years. She was afraid of being deported back to her country. Wearing flip flops and traditional dress despite the cold weather, she hesitated at the border as the RCMP told her it was illegal to cross and she would be arrested. She was visibly afraid, but eventually did cross into Canada. Later a young man from Haiti arrived and quickly crossed over.
The border visit reports are written by the volunteers who were at the border on that day.