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.
Between 4:00 and 4:30 pm four groups arrived. It was a cold, blustery day with no sun to provide a little cheer but everyone smiled as we greeted them and most were glad to accept a hat and some took mittens.
The first taxi brought a Haitian family of 4, closely followed by a Colombian couple with 2 young children. A couple from Sierra Leone arrived soon after. Finally a family from Turkey, 2 adults and 2 adolescents were brought by a Turkish speaking driver.
Eight adults, four young children and two teenagers crossed while we were present.
The RCMP officer was heard telling the first family that they should go to the legal port of entry. When they didn’t budge he continued to tell them that they would be arrested and then waved them forward. The other groups were only asked if they understood that they were police and not immigration officers. Everyone crossed calmly and were taken inside without incident.
It was a relatively quiet day, all things considered. Around 4:00 pm the first taxi arrived with a young Haitian couple, soon to be new parents. The sun was shining when they arrived so they declined our offer of hats and gloves. They seemed to be quite relaxed and crossed without any trouble.
Soon a second taxi pulled up with a young Honduran father, and his six year old son. It was only when the taxi driver opened the trunk to give him his luggage that he realized that he had taken the wrong suitcase from the bus when they got off in Plattsburgh. He was remarkably calm about it and his son was in a very cheery mood. While we tried to figure out what we could do about the suitcase mix-up, the last group of the afternoon arrived. An Angolan couple and their three children also seemed very calm and crossed easily.
After doing our best to reassure our new Honduran friend that we would do our best to try to locate his suitcase, he finally crossed empty-handed except for a hat for the boy and mittens for himself that they had accepted from us.
The RCMP were telling people that 'anything they said could be used against them'. Prior to the Covid 19 border closure this had not been part of the RCMP protocol. Officers did not say this last week so it seems probable it is not. Otherwise nothing in the RCMP behavior was problematic. A total of 9 people crossed while we were there - 5 adults and 4 children.
Our trip across the border was very smooth both ways.
Update: On April 11th the Honduran man's bag was located and should be brought to him by our contact in Montreal.
This was our first visit to Roxham Road on the US side since the lifting of the testing requirements to return to Canada.
It was a grey, damp and cold day. When we arrived two taxis were already at the border bringing two families. The first had already crossed and we could see them in the tent. The second family was likely from Haiti: mother, father and three children under 10 years of age. They took a few warm items and then entered Canada without incident. The RCMP officer did insist on directing them to the "official border crossing'' at Lacolle but no one showed any signs of being deterred to cross at Roxham Road. He also told them as he did subsequent people that they had a right to the services of a lawyer. This information is not part of the RCMP protocol and it is not clear why he told them this.
After a few minutes a taxi arrived bringing a young woman with her two daughters aged about 3 and 7 years. She spoke French and it turned out she was from Djibouti in east Africa. She took some things for the little girls and then crossed into Canada without incident.
We then spotted someone walking down Roxham Road towards us. They had obviously been dropped off further up the road. As he approached we saw a tall young man in his mid-20s. We spoke briefly. He was very polite and very nervous and just wanted to get across. He didn't take anything. He listened to the officer and then crossed over.
Finally a private car arrived with three men in their late 20's or early 30's. They told us they were from Turkey but they spoke virtually no English. We persuaded them to take some gloves and hats and they went to the border, crossing immediately as the RCMP officer did not tell them to stop to listen to his speech. One of the men had his hands in his pockets and the officer told him in an angry tone to take his hands out of his pockets. He repeated it as the young man did not understand. We were concerned that something might happen, but he seems to have taken his hands out of his pockets and they were ushered inside the tent.
Including the first family that we did not interact with, a total of some 15 people crossed into Canada this afternoon.
We spent a good few minutes talking with the US Customs officer who had never heard of people going to Roxham Road to give out mittens. He was polite and curious and did not show any signs of wanting to take us in for further questioning (as has happened in the past). He also did not want to see our proof of vaccination. He said that people could self-confirm that they were vaccinated and, only if he had doubts about their truthfulness, would he ask to see their proof.
We arrived at Roxham at 3.30 pm and spoke for quite a while with a very friendly RCMP officer who told us that since midnight, some 95 people had already crossed. He also told us he was on his first rotation at Roxham and that his parents were from Haiti. We hung around, chatted in the car and picked up garbage (someone has actually put garbage bags inside the big blue garbage cans). The bus was due to arrive in Plattsburgh at 3.25 pm so we were beginning to think that no one had arrived on the bus, when at 4.30 pm, a mini van drove along Roxham but stopped a good 100 or so yards up the road. The van sat there for about 10 minutes with its lights on and then drove off. In the dusk, we could see a group of people walking towards us - it was a bit surreal as they emerged from the darkness. We walked up to meet them. They were a family of 7 from Angola and the father spoke some Spanish and a bit of English. They were mother, father, two small children and three teenage girls.
They took some hats and scarves and then went to the edge to listen to the RCMP. I don't think they understood what the officer said, but they crossed and were led into the big tent that is attached to the building. At the same time another taxi arrived with a woman and her small son, from Columbia. She was stressed but calmly listened to the RCMP and crossed confidently. So in total, we saw 9 people.
I wish we had asked the Angolan family who had driven them and how much they had paid for the taxi/Uber. It felt suspicious that the driver had let them off up the road rather than coming right to the border. I wondered if the person did not want to be identified.
While this was happening we noticed on the Canadian side, a woman with a man who was filming the arrivals. We chatted with her for a bit. Turns out she is Emilie Beaulieu Guérette, a documentary film maker in Montreal who was waiting for some friends to arrive at Roxham: a family from Angola who had been staying briefly in Maine. Prior to that they had spent a long period in Brazil and had made the dangerous journey up to Mexico where eventually they had been allowed to enter into the US in Texas. From there they had flown to Maine where they had friends. She is someone who is very involved with refugees. http://www.emiliebg.com/
When we returned to Canada, it was smooth going. We did not need to show our ArriveCan receipts to the customs officer at Hemmingford, because he already had them in his system.
Sunday, March 8th 2020. Afternoon at Roxham Road, US.
A warm March day. It was busy at the border. When we arrived at 3.15 pm, the RCMP officer said that 25 people had crossed after 2pm that day. While we were there 19 people also crossed: 11 adults (6 women and 5 men) and 8 children (6 boys and two girls).
The first taxi came with two men in their late 30's - one man from Pakistan and the other from Nigeria. Both accepted gloves, hats and scarves. They crossed without incident into Canada. Next came a taxi with a family from Columbia - mother, father and a boy about 14 years old. All of them looked stressed and since they only spoke Spanish they were at a disadvantage. One of us was able to communicate in basic Spanish with them and they crossed over without difficulty.
Almost immediately another taxi brought a tall Sudanese woman with three small boys aged about 4 to 8 years old. They were all wearing surgical masks. The little boys looked very tired and it seemed they had been travelling along time. The boys took mittens and some hats. Speaking with the mother, we could see she was very scared and when one of us asked if she wanted a hug she nodded and burst into tears during the hug. After she calmed down she was able to go to the border with her children and cross over. We helped with the luggage.
Next up came a taxi with a single Sudanese woman and her baby ( two and a half months old) and a man from Sri Lanka. Because there was no room in the taxi for her baby's stroller, she had to wait for the next taxi to arrive with it. We talked for a bit. She told us she was from Khartoum and had travelled a long way to get here. The man from Sri Lanka spoke very little English, but he waited for the taxi to arrive with the stroller so he could help the Sudanese woman with her luggage and baby.
A taxi then arrived bringing a Haitian family: mother, father, grandmother and a one year old girl who was carried by the grandmother. They had a lot of luggage that we were able to help them with.
They accepted some warm things. Everyone crossed over without incident.
The last taxi came with a Haitian woman and her two boys. They also took some warm things and entered Canada without difficulty.
The RCMP officers respected the protocol. Some but not all of the officers were wearing surgical masks.
Sunday March 1st, 2020. Afternoon at Roxham Road, US.
A sunny afternoon but on the cool side. 14 people crossed while we were there: 7 adults and 7 children from four different countries. We arrived at 3:45 after being delayed at the border by visa paperwork (one of us is a permanent resident and needs a visa for the US).
At 4 pm two taxis arrived from two different companies with two families from Afghanistan who knew each other. Altogether there were 4 adults and 7 children of all ages (from toddler to teenager). The first family had 3 daughters and the second 2 daughters and 2 sons. The men spoke English and one of them did most of the talking with the RCMP officer. One of the men said to a volunteer that he recognized her because he had seen her on Youtube - probably a media interview.
As the families were crossing the shuttle bus taxi arrived with a lone passenger: a young woman with short green hair from Sierra Leone who was bare-legged wearing a sweater dress, running shoes and a light jacket. We gave her a hat and gloves and scarf which she accepted gladly. Right behind her another taxi arrived with a young man from Uganda who was warmly dressed.
Finally, just before 5 a taxi arrived with a man from Yemen who refused gloves and rsuhed over the border without hesitation. The RCMP officer had to repeat 'Stop' a few times so he could say his piece, which included 'You have the right to remain silent.'
Sunday, February 23rd 2020. Afternoon at Roxham Road, US.
Only two people crossed while we were there - a mother and daughter. A member of Caring for Social Justice, a Valleyfield area group, joined us at the border today. We had a slight delay at the border due to being quizzed at US customs. It was 6 degrees and sunny so we were outside the car chatting when our guest noticed the overflowing garbage bin and checked it out. He found an email flight booking with Turkish Airlines, an international drivers license and a reusable shopping bag containing gloves, scarf, toiletries, a pair of ladies boots and and empty purse. Maybe someone overloaded with baggage decided to leave this behind.
At 4pm a taxi driver we know well arrived with a woman and a small girl - about three years old - who looked scared, unlike other children we've seen looked carefree. They were Haitian but had lived in Columbia in South America. The RCMP officer gave the usual talk, respecting the protocol.
The taxi driver said that there weren't likely to be other taxis on the way as there were people planning to come the next day because they believed that a Monday would be better than a Sunday.
Sunday, February 16th, 2020. Afternoon at Roxham Road, USA.
A mild, grey and damp winter's day. Only two people crossed into Canada during the time we were there (over 2 hours). One of us arrived early and spoke with the RCMP officer who said to her - '' You know it is illegal to help refugees.'' This is the first time an officer has said this. We presume he meant - to help people cross irregularly, not to greet people and give out warm things.
A taxi arrived at about 3.45 pm bringing a young couple from Nicaragua who spoke a bit of English. The taxi driver told us they had been very scared during the taxi ride and he hoped he had helped them feel calmer.
The young woman did not show her fear and seemed quite upbeat. Both she and her male companion accepted warm things and hugs. The woman went first to the border followed by her partner. The RCMP officer (four officers were present) spoke to them in Spanish and she simply said OK and went bravely across.
The RCMP behaved appropriately although it seemed to us that the officer had said to her
in Spanish ''You cannot cross here to claim asylum.'' Under other circumstances (e.g. no witnesses present) this might have prevented someone from crossing. It is also not true since clearly people do cross here to claim asylum.
Sunday, February 9th, 2020. Afternoon at Roxham Road, USA.
We arrived at about 3:30 . Roxham Road had been well ploughed after the big storm on Friday. In total 10 people crossed into Canada while we were there (5 adults and 5 children).
Just after 4pm two taxis arrive one after the other. One taxi might have come from the airport. The first taxi brought a family from Haiti. The parents were in their 30s and their three children were aged about 6, 11 and 18 years old. All very happy to receive warm mitts and scarves. They spoke French and were very appreciative of our presence .
The second taxi had another young family also from Haiti but they only spoke English suggesting they had been in the US for some time. The parents were also in their early 30s and had two young children, about 5 and 2 years old.
The last taxi arrived about 15 minutes later. It brought , a young woman - aged about 20 years old from South Africa. She was happy to take a scarf from us.
The RCMP behaved appropriately and kept to their protocol.
The border visit reports are written by the volunteers who were at the border on that day.