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.
I arrived at Roxham Road shortly after 3pm on Sunday, July 31st, a hot sunny day. I spoke with one of the officers present and picked up garbage in the area. Just before 3.30 pm a private car arrived bringing a young Cuban man with a very friendly manner. We spoke briefly and he seemed excited to enter Canada. He had had a very long dangerous journey up from South America, through Central America, Mexico and the US. Unfortunately his proof of vaccination had been lost on the journey which means he will have to quarantine. One of the police officers spoke to him in Spanish and he crossed without incident. After crossing I heard the officer say to him that ''Anything you say will be taken down and can be used in evidence against you.'' Otherwise he was treated respectfully. He had been brought to Roxham by a friend and he was hoping to join his girlfriend in Ontario.
At about 4.40 pm, a taxi arrived with a middle aged couple from Haiti. We spoke briefly and I explained they would be arrested but it was temporary. They seemed nervous but ok, but after the officer spoke to them, they seemed to freeze on the spot and made no move to cross. At one point the man said to the officers simply ''we are refugees'' in French. They were afraid and confused and seemed to be waiting for permission to cross. I explained to them that the officer had told them it was their choice to cross. There were five officers on the Canadian side which might have increased their fear. At one point a female officer said to them in an aggressive tone a couple of times "Why don't you apply for asylum in the United States?'' They did not know what to say. This comment was intimidating, unprofessional and certainly not part of the protocol.
They continued to stand there hardly speaking to each other. Finally after more than half an hour, another taxi arrived bringing a Haitian family of mother, father and a tiny 3 month old baby. We spoke and they seemed aware of what would happen to them. But on hearing what the officer told them, they too hesitated. The man said, ''We have no choice. We cannot go back to Haiti. It is not safe there." After a few minutes they made a move to cross and seeing this, the first couple also crossed over.
As they were being dealt with outside the tent, the same female officer (as above) yelled at the Haitian woman from the first couple, in a very angry aggressive tone: ''Why are you laughing?? You've just committed a criminal act entering illegally into Canada. I could put handcuffs on you.'' She appeared to shake the plastic ties they use to handcuff people. The Haitian woman looked frightened and put her head down. It seems likely she was "laughing'' from nervousness over a nerve wracking situation.
These are vulnerable people who are taking a scary and extremely brave decision to come to Canada knowing that if they are not successful with their asylum claim they may be deported back to Haiti, a country mired in gang violence, terrible poverty and a dysfunctional state where political killings, kidnapping, torture and illegal imprisonment are common. Just last year the Haitian president Moise was assassinated. Haiti, the poorest country in the hemisphere, has never recovered from the massive earthquake of 2010 that killed 310,000 people and caused widespread destruction, the devastation of Hurricane Mathew in 2016 and another deadly earthquake in 2021. This couple may have made a long and perilous journey to get here. This is not how they should be treated.
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.