May 23, 2024

The US-Canadian Border: A Path of Hope for Immigrants

Status: 03/23/2023 07:02 am

Anyone seeking asylum in Canada from the US will be turned away. Unless you cross the border illegally – like on Wrexham Road. 98% of asylum seekers enter the country through this route.

Peter Muckey, ART Studio New York

Wroxham Road is a gravel road between the US state of New York and the Canadian province of Quebec. In the past, slaves from the American South fled here for freedom in Canada. After that, smugglers were the only ones interested in the long-unsecured border crossing, says Frances Ravensbergen of Bridges Not Borders – “bridges instead of borders”.

“There was nothing here – until 2017, many people came from Haiti,” explains Ravensberger. “Then the police first set up a tent. Then a bar. Then a real building with toilets. Now we have a fully equipped police station.”

Taxis usually bring migrants from the nearby town of Plattsburgh to Roxham Road. Cost is $70 per person, $90 per family. Canadian police officers welcome people.

Image: ART New York

“Safe place to come to Canada”

Drones now fly over the site, cameras monitor the area, and officers are on duty 24 hours a day. In recent years, Wroxham Road has become a path of hope for many immigrants who prefer to live in Canada rather than the United States. Last year alone there were 40,000. This year already over 10,000.

“People know that if they want to come to Canada, it’s a safe place. Here they are arrested and sent to the local border police station. From there they go to Montreal, where they get papers and then apply. Asylum.” , according to Ravensberger.

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This is only possible because Wroxham Road is an illegal border crossing. By law, people must be repatriated. An agreement with the United States called the Safe Third Country Agreement concluded in 2004 provides this.

“It is illegal to enter Canada from here”

Migrants continued to arrive at the American Wrexham Road today. Taxis usually bring them here from the nearby town of Plattsburgh. Cost is $70 per person, $90 per family.

With a twist hammer they are let out with their belongings. From there it is only a few meters to the boundary marked by a small white pole. Canadian police officers welcome people.

A young man with a wheeled suitcase doesn’t want to walk straight across the border. It seems that the situation may escalate in a short time. Then he sides with America. “It’s illegal to enter Canada from here,” says the border guard. “If they do, I’ll arrest them.”

Frances Ravensbergen of Bridges not Borders on Roxham Road says: “People know that if they want to come to Canada, it’s a safe place to do it.”

Image: ART New York

A job is possible after a few months

Ravensbergen of Bridges Not Borders stops on the Canadian side of Wroxham Road almost every day. Along with other volunteers, he likes to help newcomers. On cold days, they distribute gloves, hats and scarves to migrants, some of whom are seeing snow here for the first time. And she advises them like today: “You have to do what they say. Listen. Follow the rules and nothing will happen to you. Don’t push, keep calm, listen and answer.”

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It is not clear whether people actually understood them. But most of them nod gratefully. For them, crossing the border is the beginning of a new life. In Canada, they are likely to be able to work after a few months. Until then, they will get government support and free medical facilities.

New York is donating bus tickets to the border

It takes longer than in the U.S. to process asylum applications, says Stephanie Valois, a lawyer who supports many immigrants in Montreal: “Most of my clients want a quick decision to bring their family members over. They . Many applicants have been imprisoned in the U.S. before. They’re scared of that. They I don’t want to go to jail.”

In Canada, after their personal details are determined, they are released and spend a few weeks in refugee shelters. In America, people are happy to let at least some of the immigrants, millions of whom come from the South, move north.

New York City is donating tickets for the Greyhound Bus to Borders. But even in Canada, particularly in Quebec, the mood is slowly threatening to change. Right-wing parties in particular are calling for the complete closure of Wroxham Road.

The deal with the US is up for renegotiation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rejects this: “Can you put up barricades and build a big wall on Wroxham Road? Yes, you can. The only problem: there’s a 6,000-kilometer border with the US. The only way to effectively stop irregular immigration is to renegotiate the Safe Third Country Agreement with the US, which is what we’re doing now.” We are doing it as a government.”

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A 2004 agreement between Canada and the United States stipulates that the country of first arrival of immigrants is responsible for the asylum process. America in general. That’s why people should be turned away at legal border crossings to Canada – and try illegal routes, especially via Wroxham Road.

That’s why activist Ravensbergen is calling for the repeal of the accord: “Then immigrants will be able to enter the country through all the regular border crossings. That will also solve the problems we currently have in Quebec: 98 percent of asylum seekers come to land via the Roxham road. If you spread it across Canada, across the country. You can take care of immigrants. Housing, support, jobs: everything is now focused on Quebec.” Roxham Road does not make sense in many areas.

Path of Hope for Immigrants – Wroxham Road between the US and Canada

Peter Mücke, ARD New York Now Quebec/Canada, March 22, 2023 3:07 p.m.