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.
border visit 12 march 2023Read Now
A mild sunny day. We arrived at about 3.45pm. The bus was delayed arriving in Plattsburgh. Spoke with an RCMP officer.
Just after 4 pm the first taxi arrived bring a man in his 30's with a suitcase and he slowly crossed over. Shortly afterwards a black SUV (not a taxi) brought 2 Arabic speaking men, who looked like father and son. They did not speak English or French and also crossed without incident.
Other taxis arrived in quick succession. Next was a family of three, mother, father and little girl aged about 4 years old. They spoke English. Next a taxi brought two young men each with a tiny backpack. Both were wearing only shoes and one had no coat. They indicated they did not understand English or French.
The last taxi brought two single people who both spoke French. One was a man in his 30's who said to the officer that he was from Congo (DRC). The other person was a woman who might have been from Haiti. They both looked exhausted.
Everyone crossed into Canada without incident. The RCMP officers were respectful and spoke kindly, one of them warning people to mind the ruts in the path as they crossed over.
In total 10 people crossed into Canada - 2 women, 7 men and one child.
A cold sunny day at the border. We arrived at about 3.45 pm at Roxham.
At 4 pm the first taxi arrived bringing three young Tamil men from Sri Lanka. They spoke little English but happily took gloves, hats and scarves. They had hardly any belongings with them. The three crossed into Canada without incident. The taxi driver told us he had not picked them up at the bus station and that the 3pm bus had been delayed for an hour, probably because of the snow.
At about 4.30 a second taxi brought the first three passengers from the bus: a young man from Afghanistan, a woman from Columbia in her late 20’s and a man in his 40s from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
A few minutes later two taxis arrived at the same time. The first one brought a large Syrian family: mother, father, a baby in a carrying seat, a two year old girl and two twin girls aged about 9-10 years. They had a lot of luggage but it consisted not of large suitcases but a considerable number of smaller improvised bags. It looked as though they had been traveling for a long time. The twin girls were very dynamic. They insisted on getting mitts and hats for the baby and toddler first. Then they accepted some for themselves. They were very diligent helping their father carry all the luggage to the edge of the border and after crossing they were ferrying the luggage back and forth into the RCMP building. All the while the mother was taking care of the baby and toddler. They crossed easily into Canada. I don’t think they understood what the RCMP officer told them.
The other taxi brought a family from Venezuela - a mother, a 7 year old girl and a young man. The mother was pregnant and smiled broadly when we congratulated her. They too entered Canada without incident.
We decided to leave about 5 pm. As we drove along Roxham, a black SUV passed us by. Approaching the junction with North Star road we saw another SUV drop off a group of people at the corner. They began walking down Roxham in our direction. We stopped and offered them warm things but they were too intent on walking to the border to stop. They were not dressed warmly and we were concerned for their safety as it was getting much colder and the walk to Roxham would take about 15 minutes. We turned around to return to the border. As we did the black SUV we had passed earlier came towards us. We stopped it and asked the driver if he was a taxi. He said he was an Uber driver. We asked him as a special favor to pick up the family and drive them to the border. He agreed and we met them when they arrived. At that point they were happy to accept warm things. They were a Persian speaking family from Iran with minimal luggage carried in backpacks: mother, father, baby, teenage boy and three younger children. The parents looked exhausted. They too crossed over safely.
In total we saw 19 people: three women, seven men and 9 children/teens.
border visit 29 january 2023Read Now
We arrived at Roxham at 3.20 pm on a cold, snowy day. We were accompanied by two film students from the University of Quebec in Montreal. They were planning to make a documentary on Roxham Road for their degree studies.
The first taxi came at about 3.45 pm bringing seven young men (in their 20's and early 30's) from Afghanistan, Turkey and one who was likely from Sri Lanka. They were all in need of gloves, hats and scarves and carried very little with them. Some wore only shoes. After the police officer said the usual things, he added in a rather irritated tone: '' it's your choice now so make up your minds''. I was talking in basic English with a friendly man from Turkey while they waited to cross at the border. He pulled out a box of cigarettes and offered me one and so did another man. This was a first! I explained that they would not be able to smoke once they crossed into Canada :) They smilingly replaced them and crossed with the rest of the group without incident
Quickly after this a second taxi brought a family from Venezuela - a couple with two children in their early teens. We spoke halting Spanish with them which they appreciated. The father was concerned about being deported. They crossed into Canada. and likely did not understand what the RCMP said. This is often the case given the fact that people come from around the world and many do not speak English or French.
The last taxi brought another Hispanic family: parents and one child. They accepted some warm things but there was not time to speak with them.
In total we met with 14 people this afternoon.
Border visit 22 January 2023Read Now
The crossing went well. We arrived at Roxham Rd around 3:00pm.
3 taxis and an SUV all arrived at the same time at 3:37pm.
There were three young men from Venezuela (16 yrs old), from Congo (around 19), and from Nigeria (around 20); two men from Afghanistan in their 30s; a young woman and a family with a young child from Haiti; and a family with two children, 8 and 14, from Peru.
Two young men from Afghanistan (around 20 and 25), the younger one had no passport.
When it came to crossing over, the first border agent told the group they needed to cross at a regular border crossing or they would be arrested. The large group hesitated a little while (one of the taxi drivers stayed to see they got over...), then a few forged forward and the rest followed. The last taxi said there were no more coming.
Many were happy to get mitts etc, some came with their own.
My fellow volunteer had brought a scarf, a hat and 2 pairs of man's mitts which he gave away.
We left at 4:30pm, the return was without incident.
Border visit 15 January 2023Read Now
It was almost 4:15 before anyone arrived and then it was chaos! Seven cars and minivans arrived pretty much all at once. There was a group of about 8 from Colombia followed by a large extended family from Venezuela that arrived in several vehicles. They were travelling with about 10 young children ranging from a toddler to perhaps a 7 year old. I guess the taxis and vans don’t come equipped with child car seats and they pile in as many small kids as possible. A single man from Georgia came by private car. A young Afghani man arrived in a taxi with a group of Congolese. In our scramble to offer hats, gloves and scarves we rather lost count of exactly how many people crossed and where they were from but we would estimate about 40 in all. The RCMP seemed reasonable. We had no issues at either the US or Canadian border.
border visit 8 january 2023Read Now
A chilly sunny day at Roxham Road. The first taxi arrived around 3.30 pm bringing one man from Georgia. He was warmly dressed and did not take any warm things. He did not speak any English or French. He walked across with one hand in the air. The RCMP officers were polite.
Shortly afterwards a taxi brought two young men, one from Afghanisatan and the other from Columbia. They accepted some warm clothes. One of the police officers spoke to the Columbian man in Spanish.
Another taxi brought a single man from Djibouti in east Africa. He spoke French .
Next a taxi arrived with a shy couple (woman and man) from Haiti who accepted some warm things. When the woman crossed over she failed to stop when the officer told her to do so. Eventually she did stop and the officer gave her quite a lecture about this. He asked them about open food and required them to dispose of it. Immediately afterwards two young Venezuelans arrived and accepted some warm things. A different officer dealt with them and was low key and respectful.
Then a family of four arrived consisting of a Haitian man, a Brazilian woman and their two children, a girl aged about 12 and a boy about 4 years old. The officer tried to encourage them to go to Lacolle and told them wrongly that their 'illegal' entry into Canada could affect their asylum case. This is absolutely not the case as all refugee claims received by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada are treated in the same way, regardless of how the person entered Canada. RCMP have no authority to give out any information about asylum claims, let alone false information.
The same officer made the family go through all their belongings looking for any open food. They had to dispose of it before crossing despite the fact that there are two large garbage bins just outside the RCMP installation. This took quite some time before they crossed over. Then, still outside, the officers took at least 10 minutes going through documents while the children were clearly suffering from the cold. Surely all this could have been dealt with inside in the warmth. Finally they were able to go inside.
The last person to arrive was a tall young man from Sri Lanka who spoke no English. He had a hat and gloves but accepted a scarf. He was carrying his cell phone that he looked at the whole time. He carried only a very small paper bag and no other belongings. After crossing he showed documents to the police officer but he did not appear to have a passport.
In total, 13 people crossed this afternoon: 2 children, two women and 9 men.
I arrived at the border about 2.45pm. The border agent was the younger one from the previous week. He immediately asked where the ''other person'' was who had been with me last Sunday. He continued with the same questions as he had the previous week and went through the trunk and the back seat. After consulting with a person inside the building he let me drive on.
I waited at Roxham Road for about 30 minutes when a taxi arrived with two men. Both of them were extremely scared, did not speak English, but said that they were from Turkey. They did not need hats or mittens but had almost no luggage. They stood at the border for a long time while an RCMP officer gave his usual speech. It was obvious that the men did not speak English. When they were finally on Canadian soil, the officer said that he did not speak Turkish and insisted that they needed to speak English because he knew that they could. He was very rough.
About 30 minutes later a private car arrived. A man brought another man, both were from Bangladesh. The driver said that he did not know the other person, he was just dropping him off. The passenger was well dressed, had a suitcase and went across without hesitation.
I left at about 4.30pm.
When we arrived at the border, we had a US border agent who could not understand why we were driving to the border to meet refugees. He questioned us for quite a while and finally ordered us to enter the custom building. There was another agent inside who was much younger and seemed to answer to the older agent. We were asked to empty our pockets and to hand over personal belongings.
They opened my companion's wallet and then emptied my purse onto the counter. I was not permitted to pick up my purse until we were allowed to leave. My car was searched and we got a long lecture that what we were doing was illegal. Finally, after about 30 minutes we were allowed to leave (with my purse). Despite being told it was 'illegal' to give out hats and mitts to people at Roxham Road, we were allowed to enter the US!
At Roxham Road, there were about 43 refugees from Haiti, Congo, Nigeria, Columbia and Nicaragua. There was one baby with parents and two siblings. Another couple brought with them two girls about 8-10 years old, and there was a mother with one child. Most had very little luggage except for one family. Some of the refugees had hats and mittens but most of them did not. They accepted the offered hats, mitts and scarves with gratitude. The last person to arrive was a young man from Cuba who only was wearing a jeans jacket, jeans and torn running shoes. We left at about 4.30pm.
Border visit 11 December 2022Read Now
Arrival at 3pm. Good exchange with the RCMP officers without any comment on our box with warm clothes as happened on two occasions.
Upon arrival, there was a Quebec immigration lawyer who had come to investigate and take pictures. I introduced myself and he asked me if he could interview me about our work. I refused, as I was not the person in the group authorized to do so, and moreover, I did not know the purpose of his investigation. He stayed until the first group arrived and photographed or filmed their arrival.
First group of 7 people in an unidentified cab, most likely of Middle Eastern origin. They were hesitating to cross, as if they were waiting for my approval to join the customs officers. They moved on when I gave them a sign.
Second and third group, arriving in minivan taxis, about twenty people (mostly adult men with two or three women and 4 children), probably coming from South America and Africa.
When we welcome people, it seems important to tell them that the mittens etc. are free. The drivers were very cooperative in telling them that it was free.
I left at 4:15 pm.
About 1/4 km from the border a group of 7 people (children and adults) were walking towards the border. A driver in an unidentified van came and offered to take them to the border. After some back and forth, they refused the offer, as they had almost arrived. I took out the bin with the warm things, because I could see that they would have been useful. But in the end I decided to go back to my car, not wanting to intervene, being alone and in the dark, with people who no doubt were tired and had had their share of difficult interactions by that point.
At the Canadian border post, a very nice customs officer gave me my passport with a strange smile. I asked her what this smile meant... Answer: ''We pay enough taxes as it is'', probably in disapproval of our work.
Border visit 4 December 2022Read Now
We arrived at 3.20 pm today, but no one arrived until 4:00 pm and then it was non-stop! 4 taxis arrived and one unmarked van. Everyone was in their twenties except a man from Tanzania who might have been in his thirties.
At 4:00 pm:
One taxi brought 7 people: five people from Haiti: 2 men, 2 women and a 4-year old girl and a single man from Tanzania. They all accepted mitts, hats and some scarves. There was another man who crossed the border immediately without talking with us.
A second taxi brought 9 people. There were 2 women, three men and one 10 year old boy from Haiti. As well there was a Namibian family of a man, woman and four year old girl.
The next taxi brought five Haitian people: three men and two women.
At 4.30 pm, a taxi arrived with a Spanish speaking woman and her five year old daughter and a young Haitian woman aged about 18 years.
In total 24 people crossed. There was one creole-speaking RCMP Officer which was helpful. The officers we saw were respectful with the refugees.
The border visit reports are written by the volunteers who were at the border on that day.