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, December 29th 2019. Afternoon at Roxham Road, USA.
A damp grey day at the border. A total of 8 people crossed while we were there: 7 adults and one child. We arrived at about 3.20 pm and at 3.40 pm a taxi brought a man of about 30 years old from Libya who spoke only Arabic. He accepted some warm things from us. Because of the language barrier, the taxi driver had not been able to explain the process to him. The man stood at the border but did not understand what the RCMP said. He was perplexed and hesitated for a few moments. We indicated to him that it was ok to cross and he eventually did so.
Not long afterwards a taxi brought a very young woman who appeared to be about 18 years old, not that warmly dressed. She did not want to talk and went straight to the edge and crossed quickly into Canada. The third taxi brought a very tall young man in his twenties from Rwanda who seemed quite confident. He accepted a scarf from us and told the RCMP officer that he understood he would be arrested and wanted to seek asylum.
The next taxi brought four people - a family of three from Angola and a woman on her own.
The Angolan family consisted of parents and a small boy about five years old. They spoke French. The single woman spoke English and was of African origin but we were not sure which country she was from. They all accepted hats, scarves, gloves and mittens. They crossed without incident. Although the officer did say to them that if they went to the Lacolle border they could ''fill in the papers legally'' which is of course incorrect since going to the Lacolle border carries the risk of being refused entry into Canada because of the Safe Third Country Agreement with the USA.
The last person to come was a small man about fourty years of age. He may have been from South Asia. He spoke no English or French and the taxi driver said he had been unable to communicate with him. The man was very distraught and appeared terrified. Several times he made the hand gesture of cutting across his throat which we understood to mean he was afraid for his life in his home country. He literally ran across the border and the RCMP officer yelled at him to stop, but he attempted to run past the officer. The officer grappled him to the ground and kept gesturing him to calm down. As he handcuffed him, the man cried out several times, a sort of moaning sound. The officer (on his own as it was shift change and the only other officer was in the building with the other refugees) kept trying to calm him down in a kind way and led him into the building. Shortly afterwards the RCMP officer came out and spoke to us for a while, explaining that they are not supposed to handcuff people and that he did not like to do so, but that in this case he had no choice. He said that once the man was inside the building and saw the other refugees sitting calmly inside, that he too calmed down. Hopefully the man was able to speak to an interpreter once he was taken to Lacolle and will receive the help he needs in Montreal. It was clear to us that this man had suffered a great deal and had likely been traumatized by whatever events had caused him to seek asylum in Canada. The three of us, including the taxi driver were all upset by the incident, and our inability to communicate with the man and reassure him.
Sunday, December 22nd, 2019. Afternoon at Roxham Road, USA.
We arrived at Roxham at 3:25 this afternoon. There was not a soul in sight. At approximately 3:50 pm a professor from SUNY university in Plattsburgh and a photojournalist arrived just ahead of Laura's Taxi, delivering a family of 5 from Nigeria.
The family comprised a couple with an adolescent girl and two younger boys. They were wearing hats and gloves but accepted tuques and some more gloves since what they were wearing didn't fit very well. They had lots of luggage that the driver helped them with.
Shortly after the first arrival a second taxi brought a couple with a baby in a stroller. We had no chance to interact with them as we were busy handing out the extra hats etc to the first group. They went straight to the crossing and quickly went over on the heels of the first group.
The last group arrived shortly after 4pm and consisted of a couple with two children: a little boy who was not more than 2 and a baby in a stroller who was 2 months old. This family was not as well dressed as the previous two and the woman said they were from the US. They spoke French and English and it seemed likely they were Haitian. They too gladly accepted hats and mitts for the kids and gloves for the mother.
This group hesitated after listening to the RCMP but we didn't hear exactly what was said. We think they were a bit confused by the officer. Finally they crossed over. In total 12 people crossed into Canada today - 6 adults and 6 children. We left just before 5 pm.
Sunday, December 15th, 2019. Afternoon at Roxham Road, USA.
Apologies for the late posting!
It's a bitterly cold and windy day. Only two people crossed while we were there. We arrived at 3.20 pm and passed a taxi while driving down Roxham Road. We spotted a tall man carrying a backpack and a small bag walking down Roxham Road. The taxi driver, for some reason, had not dropped him off by the border but further up the road. This is not the first time we have seen this.
He arrived at the border just as we did and we were able to speak with him. He was not that warmly dressed (bomber jacket, tuque and gloves but no scarf) and accepted a scarf from us. He was from Haiti, and obviously scared in anticipation of entering Canada and being arrested. The RCMP officer was very brief and he crossed into Canada without incident.
Within five minutes the next taxi arrived bringing one woman, also Haitian, in her late thirties or early forties. A friend of hers arrived at the same time in a separate car. He had driven her all the way from Massachusetts to Plattsburgh where she had got a taxi. She happily accepted a hat, gloves and scarf and was very open with us. One of us gave her a hug and she crossed easily into Canada. The RCMP officer said little and stuck to the protocol. He did not insist she bring all her bags over the border at the same time and she was able to come back for the last item.
We stayed until 5pm and no one else arrived.
Sunday, December 8th 2019. Afternoon at Roxham Road, US.
A cold day. We arrived at 3.30pm. Seven people crossed into Canada while we were there.
The first taxi came at about 4pm bringing a woman holding a baby wrapped in a blanket. She was nervous and did not want to talk and crossed the border without a problem.
Minutes later a second taxi arrived with two men who stated that they had come from Venezuela. One of them very gratefully accepted mittens and a scarf.
5 minutes later a taxi arrived with a woman on her own. She had three suitcases and was in distress. She was crying and was not able to talk, but accepted a pair of gloves. The RCMP officer permitted the taxi driver to help with the suitcases.
Finally about twenty minutes before 5pm the last taxi arrived arrived with a couple fro Venezuela who crossed without a problem.
Most of the arrivals were well prepared for the cold but some of them accepted warm things.
Sunday, December 1st 2019. Afternoon at Roxham Road, USA.
A cold, wintry day. We arrived at about 3:30 pm and waited for about an hour.
Finally one taxi arrived, bringing two men who had got off the bus in Plattsburgh. They were from Nicaragua and Venezuela, and grateful for the scarves we gave them and for the friendly welcome. The bus had been delayed because of a snowstorm, and other buses had been cancelled according to the taxi driver.
The RCMP reception was according to protocol and relaxed/friendly. We left at 4:50 pm.
Sunday, November 24th 2019. Afternoon at Roxham Road, USA.
A cold late autumn afternoon. We arrived at 3.20 pm. While we were there five people crossed into Canada- 2 women, 2 men and one child.
First to arrive by taxi was a young man about 30 years old from Ethiopia. He was shy about taking warm things that he needed and finally accepted a hat, scarf and gloves. He was calm and crossed quickly in over the border.
Next came a Haitian women in her 30's on her own. She told us that she had been living in the US before deciding to come to Canada. She had three large bags with her and had clearly brought as many of her possessions as she could. She was dressed in a thin jacket and was happy to take some things. When we told her she would be arrested by the RCMP, she began crying and trembling. One of us gave her a hug and reassurance that this was a temporary arrest and she would be ok. The RCMP officer told her (wrongly) that ''Five kilometres from here is a Port of Entry where you can apply for refugee status.''** She became confused and turned to us, saying in French '' Can you help me? ''. We told her that crossing at Roxham was her best option. After a another moment of hesitation she crossed over.
The last taxi to arrive while we were there brought a family of three from Columbia: young parents and a daughter aged about 5 years. They only spoke Spanish and fortunately one of us was able to speak Spanish with them. They were stressed but calm. The father took a scarf. The RCMP officer was brief and to the point and they crossed without incident.
** Because of the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) between Canada and the USA, asylum seekers who try to claim asylum at a Canadian land Port of Entry are at risk of being sent back to the United States (and to be held in immigration detention there) unless they meet one of the four exceptions to the Agreement. The STCA only applies at official land Ports of Entry and not at irregular crossings such as Roxham Road. The STCA is thus the reason why people are crossing irregularly into Canada.
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.