On this blog page, 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.
We have also started to post our newsletters on the blog.
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.
Aussi, nous avons commencé à poster nos infolettres sur le blogue.
Sunday, October 6th, 2019. Afternoon at Roxham Road, USA
It is a mild autumn day. A total of 11 people crossed into Canada while we were at Roxham Road.
First to arrive was the small shuttle bus taxi bringing eight people: three women, one man, a teenage boy, two girls and a baby. A first family group went over, then a single woman. A mother with teenage boy and girl aged about 6 or 7 were waiting with us. The mother was tearful and very afraid. She said she was from Nigeria. They went to the border's edge and stood uncertainly as the police officer said his piece. Then the little girl moved ahead and her mother and brother followed. Several people had taken the new hand-knitted hats on offer and we put a hat on the baby's head and one little girl took finger puppets.
The second and last taxi brought three men who were not together but had shared the taxi. One was a young man about 18 years old or so and who looked south Asian. He spoke no English or French. One of the other men was shabbily dressed and looked as though he had been traumatized. He was very polite with the police officer, replying 'yes sir' and when he was told it was his choice whether to cross or not he replied in accented English : ''I have no choice. I need protection.''
We stayed another hour but no one else arrived.
Sunday, September 22nd 2019. Afternoon at Roxham Road, USA.
Arrived at the border about 3.20. Shortly after we observed a youngish woman on the Canadian side , right at the border. We asked her if she was part of the RCMP. She said that she was not . We talked a bit about our group and asked her if she was attached to a group which she denied, stating that she was observing because she was personally interested. By then we noticed that she had a small camera and asked her if she was recording which she confirmed. She remained close to the border the entire time and I heard her reporting to someone by telephone.
Shortly after four Borderline taxi arrived with a family from Nigeria, parents with four children a baby girl, a ten year old girl and two boys one almost a teenager.
Next City taxi driver brought a man from Nigeria with three children and a single woman who had a lot of baggage. The two taxi drivers left fast and did not talk. The woman on the Canadian side tried to ask questions of the refugees.
Finally , around 4.30 another taxi arrived with a very friendly driver who we had not seen before. He brought a another Nigerian couple with four children a baby girl, another girl and two boys.
The RCMP officer had given every one the same message that if they crossed at Roxham they would be arrested, that there was an official border 5 km away where they could cross ''legally'' but he did not push it and was kind and helpful around the suit cases.
When I arrived at 2:30 pm, a group of three people had just crossed, an older woman and two young people. I was unable to find out where they were from, as the taxi driver didn't know. She said they'd arrived by private car or taxi in Plattsburgh and arranged to be taken to the border by her.
At 2:40 pm, a young couple from Azerbaidjan arrived, the woman quite visibly pregnant. They were friendly, but also keen to cross, which they did without fail.
At 3:50 pm, a taxi brought two young men, one from Afghanistan and one from Yemen. Again they crossed without problems. The young man from Yemen was made to wait in front of the door to the RCMP building for a few minutes. I waved at him and wished him good luck. He waved back and put his hand on his heart. Our presence at the border, even if minimal and brief for the people who cross, does make a difference.
The taxi driver who had brought the two young men had said he had another job that he was already late for. I waited for him to arrive back, but left at 5 pm not having seen him again.
We arrived at 2:35 pm to discover a young woman sitting on the ground beside a large red suitcase looking glum. We hurried to her side with questions. She was 21 years old from Burundi and had not lived in the USA.
She spoke French first, with some English. She said she’d been dropped off down the road by the taxi driver. She said she’d checked on Google and found her way to Roxham but was confused after the officer told her it was better to go through customs. After a few minutes of discussion I suggested she stand up and take a breath and decide what to do. After a few more minutes of contemplation she grabbed her suitcase and re-presented herself. The officer who gave the spiel again suggested that she might be better off going to the main border and that she would be arrested if she crossed there. She nodded and walked on.
At 3 pm a taxi van arrived with 6 passengers: A couple with 3 girls who looked like a couple of teenagers and a pre-teen. They spoke English and were from Nigeria, the father said. The RCMP officer who addressed them said that "this is not the way to enter Canada - you can ask for asylum at the border". He said they shouldn't be taking advice from the taxi drivers. The taxi driver was still there and muttered indignantly that the "taxi driver didn't tell them nuthin." After they'd gone over, were arrested and escorted into the RCMP building, he repeated sarcastically "Don't believe the taxi drivers" and shook his head saying that the RCMP were exaggerating by saying that crossing at the border would be more efficient. He said "they're scared to death" "they're terrified of losing their kids" and "I'm on their side". He finished up his cigarette with "I hate Trump" then left advising us that more were on the way later that day...
At 4:15 pm a taxi arrived delivering a woman from Pakistan with her 3 year old son. After they were escorted into the building the taxi driver called her husband in New York to say that they'd arrived at Roxham and crossed over. The other passenger was a young Nigerian woman who'd been crying because she didn't have money. The taxi driver said he brought her anyway and claimed that he's "the only honest taxi driver". This time the officers were even more explicit in suggesting that people go to the border crossing at Lacolle, but they didn't hesitate to step into Canada at Roxham.
Altogether we gave out 2 finger puppets and 4 bracelets.
A beautiful sunny late summer day. We visited the border together with Nichola Feldman-Kiss, an artist from Toronto who is doing an art project on borders and asylum seekers. We arrived at 2.30 pm and stayed until 5pm (Nichola stayed longer).
Just after our arrival, a middle-aged woman and two young adults -- possibly mother, daughter and son -- arrived by taxi, all three from Haiti.
Later came a woman with young children, two boys and a girl, from Nigeria. Thanks to one of our volunteers, we now have knitted finger puppets in all sorts of colors and patterns to give to children, so they were happy to choose one they liked.
The third taxi brought a very friendly young man from Ghana who had lived in Columbus, Ohio, for the past three years. He had six or seven bags and suitcases, far more than he could carry across in one go. Having lined up all his luggage, he stood there for about 10 minutes, hesitating, before finally crossing over. The RCMP officer who was there told him he could go back and forth to get all his belongings, and even took two bags himself.
Sunday, August 18th 2019. Afternoon at Roxham Road, USA.
While we were at Roxham Road today, 7 refugees crossed into Canada, all adults. We were accompanied by a Masters student doing a study on border crossings and how they can be made more humane.
The first taxi brought an older couple who spoke both French and English - very nice people.
Next came a taxi bringing one man from Nigeria who looked to be about 30 years old.
Next the taxi brought a young man who had arrived at Plattsburgh Airport. He was French speaking , about 20 years of age and very tall. We did not hear where he was from.
The third arrival was a sweet young woman, maybe 20 years old who came from Ethiopia. We really wished we had more time with people to hear about their stories.
The fourth taxi dropped off two young women and at the same time a fifth taxi brought another young woman. All women we’re in their early 20’s. We were not able to find out where they were from.
The RCMP respected their protocol.
Sunday, August 11th, 2019. Afternoon at Roxham Road, USA.
A busy afternoon. In total 15 refugees crossed into Canada during the afternoon: 9 adults and 6 children. They came in four taxis. As well we had two visitors from SUNY Plattsburgh University.
The first tax brought 3 women: a young woman from Nigeria and an older woman with an adult daughter from Rwanda. They all spoke English.
Soon afterwards a second taxi arrived bringing a couple with three children from an African country. The children were 2 boys around 12 and 8 years old and a girl aged about 4 years old. They spoke English. As they were entering the RCMP building we heard someone ask if only the girl had been born in the USA. So it would appear they had been living in the USA for a while.
Another City Taxi arrived bearing 4 people from the Democratic Republic of Congo: a mother with three children : 2 boys about 15 and 11 years old and a girl, maybe 8 or 9. Mother and daughter were tearfully emotional. Once again we thought we heard the RCMP officers clarifying who was born in the USA.
The last taxi brought three adults from Nigeria: a couple (man and woman) and a lone woman. They crossed over quickly.
Everyone crossed without incident and the RCMP respected their protocol.
Sunday, August 4th 2019. Afternoon at Roxham Road, USA.
Another warm summer day. A total of 7 people, all adults crossed into Canada while we were there.
The first taxi brought two women of African origin in their thirties. They looked exhausted and did not want to talk. The RCMP officer gave helpful information about the need to bring all their luggage with them in one go. We helped one of the women who had two very heavy suitcases.
The next taxi brought two Nigerian men. They stopped at the border as the RCMP asked them to do but when one of the men (perhaps assuming the officer had finished speaking) walked across the border, the RCMP officer became angry and told him to stop because he had not finished.
The last taxi brought two men from Sri Lanka. They were very friendly, drank some water and thanked us with a Namaste. The RCMP officer stuck to the protocol and they crossed without incident.
Sunday, July 28th, 2019. Afternoon at Roxham Road, USA.
It was 28C in full sunlight, when we arrived at Roxham Road. Later on the blessed clouds
breezed in and brought relief. It was an unusually busy afternoon and a total of 18 people
crossed while we were there (14 adults and 4 children).
The first taxi to arrive brought and young man and woman in their thirties from Haiti.
They were not a couple. Next came a taxi bringing a young English speaking woman of African
origin with a boy aged about 8 years old wearing red spider man running shoes. The taxi driver helped them to bring their several pieces of luggage to the edge of the border.
A minivan taxi arrived bringing six people: a Haitian couple with a year old baby. The couple spoke more Spanish than French or English. The woman explained they had been living in Chili for some time;
a young man from Ghana; a middle-aged Mexican man who spoke some English and a young Haitian woman. This group of people had very little luggage.
Next arrived a taxi with a couple from Columbia who also spoke some English. The woman
was in her third trimester of pregnancy. The couple held hands throughout the process.
The last taxi brought a family of six from Pakistan: middle aged parents, a young man, a young woman, a preteen boy and a toddler. They were tired but communicative and accepted our well wishing graciously, thanking us in English.
This afternoon the RCMP officers were very friendly and polite and everyone crossed without incident.
The border visit reports are written by the volunteers who were at the border on that day. There are about 15 active volunteers in our border visit committee.