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.
hen I arrived at the bus station, I met with two American journalists from USA today who were talking with two very young men from Venezuela. They had crossed into Canada via Roxham Road some months ago and were sent to a hotel in Niagara Falls. As had been reported in the media, they, along with other asylum seekers, had no access to services there and were told it would take a long time to be able to work. Discouraged they crossed back into the US and were going to join some family members who had recently arrived in the US. Unfortunately it can take a long time to get a work permit in the US as well and the asylum process may be less favorable to them there.
The 3pm bus arrived from NYC, and I was able to speak with three people who disembarked and were going to take a taxi to Lacolle Port of Entry. All were from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Two of them had qualifying family members in Canada with the right status and I was able to give them information about the documentation needed to prove the relationship with the family member. They immediately began talking with family members in order to receive photos of the needed documents (mainly birth certificates). Unfortunately, the third person, a woman on her own, only had a cousin in Canada. It took some time for her to absorb the reality that she would be unable to seek asylum in Canada because cousins cannot be anchor family members under STCA rules. She kept trying to convince me that she might be able to get around this and said that her cousin was like a brother to her, and they had been raised together. It was painful to explain that despite the genuine closeness in their relationship, STCA rules were concerned only with immediate family members and spouses, regardless of how deep the tie might be between two more distant relatives. She was stunned and discouraged and needed to take time to sit, take stock and then made some calls. I invited her to come inside to have food and drink but she preferred to stay outside.
Inside I met with a volunteer from a Plattsburgh grassroots organization who was helping a family of three from Columbia: a couple with a small boy. Since they had no family in Canada, they had been excluded and returned to the US. The volunteers was going to take them to social services to get assistance as they had no funds for a hotel, food and bus tickets.
The volunteer returned later with a family group from Afghanistan who had been excluded from Canada the previous day: wife, husband and the husband’s two siblings. The wife (I will call her ‘Khadija’) has a sister in Canada who is a permanent resident so she had a qualifying family member. The CBSA officer looked at photos of Khadija’s sister’s ID documents and told her: ‘’ You don’t look like sisters. I think you are cousins.” I hope that this kind of subjective opinion is not used as one reason to exclude people, since it is hardly reliable. I have heard that CBSA officers at a POE in Ontario have in the past asked two family members (one in Canada and another at the Port of Entry) to each draw a family tree in order to confirm that they are related as claimed. These kinds of approaches can be used when the documentary evidence of the relationship is inadequate. For example, not everyone from Afghanistan will have birth certificates and it is common that members of the same family will not have the same surnames. Afghanistan and other countries have different traditions, but these differences should not result in people being excluded from Canada when in fact they have a qualifying family member residing here. We wonder whether officers making these decisions are given consistent training across the country. We are in the process of finding a lawyer to take their case. In the meantime they have found a place to stay with a family friend some distance away, and the Plattsburgh grassroots group has paid for their bus tickets.
After the meeting with this family, I went out to look for the woman from the DRC but she was no longer there. Someone told me that she had left with her luggage to look for a hotel. I tried to locate her in two nearby hotels without success.
The American volunteer also told me that on Tuesday, May 2nd a total of 41 people were brought to the bus station by US Border patrol. Some may have been excluded from Canada, while others were intercepted by Border Patrol after irregular entry into the US from Canada. While some people were able to pay for their own bus tickets, the organization had to scramble to find overnight accommodation for others (some paid by Social Services), pay for bus tickets for some and in one case they paid for a taxi to take 6 people to NYC (there were no bus seats available that day). A local elected official came to see the situation at the bus station and was made aware that the situation was far from ‘under control’ as had been claimed by another elected official in a previous news item.
Leave a Reply.
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.