No Dead End on Roxham Road: Canada Wants to Keep its Border Open for "Irregular Crossers"
by Denis Bolotsky
The victory of Trudeau's Liberals in the 21 October federal election left Canada with an unproductive minority government and an open gateway for illegal immigrants at the country's southern border.
As world leaders and top diplomats from dozens of countries gather in New York City for the 74th UN General Assembly session, right beside their Manhattan hotels lies an informal transport hub for people who are planning to illegally cross the Canadian border.
It takes about six hours to travel by Greyhound bus from New York City to the town of Plattsburgh near the Canadian border. There is no bus depot, so passengers disembark at a large gas station surrounded by farms. But both the potential illegal border crossers and local taxi drivers know the spot and the following routine very well.
Only one of the five refugees who disembarked the bus agreed to talk to Sputnik, but asked us not to use his real name and personal details. Sam is from an African country. He was traveling together with his wife and eight-month-old baby, who was born in Mexico before the family came to the United States on tourist visas, which are now running out. Many asylum seekers misinform the US authorities about their immigration intent when applying for B1/B2 visas – something that jeopardises their non-immigrant status. And since the US has a tougher immigration policy than its neighbour, these people set their sights on moving to Canada.
I've had a lot of problems in the United States and I was unable to work on my immigration case there," says Sam. "Legal proceedings are too expensive and we didn't have any money left, so we decided to move further north, to Canada."
Plattsburgh taxi drivers struggle to make a living. In a way, the Plattsburgh-Roxham Road route is a lifesaver for local cab companies, since there's not much work in town. Just like their passengers, the drivers preferred to remain anonymous.
"I'm $20 down on gas after each trip, but I have to work because I want to retire and move down south with my old lady", says one driver, who's been in the business for several decades. He adds that he rarely gets to pick up refugees, because unlike his colleague, he "doesn't speak their language". The man also said that he's afraid to pick up refugees at night, because "when they get together in groups – anything could happen".

Bringing passengers to the border is technically legal, but cab companies came under scrutiny in 2017, when three of them were fined for overcharging the "Roxham Road-goers" with prices of up to $300 per person.
They're legal for the United States, so they're good. Border patrol don't even mess with them", says another driver. "Usually there are three or four of them on each bus and we don't get called in advance, we have to wait for them here."
Walking across the small ditch that marks Canada's boundary is a leap of faith for border crossers and their families. Even though the word-of-mouth instructions that some of them get from friends and relatives who already went north in search of a better life suggest that there is nothing to fear, these people are still under stress. Knowing this, two US volunteers come to the checkpoint every day to comfort them and to provide them with warm clothes.
Apparently journalists who make it to the US side of the US-Canada border can count on comments from local officials only if their media outlets fit certain requirements. Plattsburgh Mayor Colin Read, who agreed to be interviewed about Roxham Road, had a sudden change of heart two hours before the meeting, claiming that Sputnik is not "a sanctioned impartial news organisation".
After crossing over to Canada, the illegals, whose story perhaps doesn't get checked on either side of the border as scrupulously as one of a Sputnik journalist covering the subject of illegal immigration, are being taken to processing centres. Depending on the outcome of the one-month-long legal procedure that follows, they are usually allowed to stay in Canada and to receive all sorts of aid from the government – food, shelter and an opportunity to become Canadians.
Even if asylum seekers are not eligible to stay, they get a removal order and are usually released on conditions to report for a future removal process. For many border crossers who have already broken the law twice – upon entry to both the US and Canada – it probably doesn't sound like a harsh punishment.
The reason for Roxham Road's existence is a loophole in the "Safe Third Country" border agreement between the US and Canada, which allows asylum seekers to enter Canada outside official ports of entry and to make a refugee claim on Canadian soil. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have been witnessing such a massive influx of asylum seekers that they have had to build a temporary compound at the crossing. This loophole, however, does not work at airports and other official border crossings such as Champlain–St. Bernard de Lacolle, which is just a few kilometres away from Roxham Road.
If you look at the way mainstream media in Canada and the US react to Roxham Road, you would probably end up with either positive or neutral coverage, focusing on the emotional and humanitarian side of things, while social and legal issues are omitted.
People who have knowingly violated the law are being called "irregular border crossers", with journalists focusing on their individual life stories and hardships, rather than on the broader picture, including the effects of uncontrollable illegal immigration on Canada's culture, social infrastructure, not to mention the cost of the whole "affair" for taxpayers.
Canadian politicians, activists and academics who dare to analyse and question the impact of uncontrollable migration are likely to be labelled racists and are banned from public discussions, forced out of their jobs, and are persecuted by self-proclaimed anti-hate groups on social media.

Paleoconservative activist Faith Goldy broke the story of the Roxham Road crossing in 2017, right when it became known. Goldy says she was banned from several social media platforms, harassed, and physically attacked by left-wing extremists, forced to move out of Toronto, where shortly before that she ran for mayor and received 25,000 votes, coming in third and losing to powerful establishment candidates. Goldy runs her own YouTube show called "Canada First", which provides a platform, among others things, to people with unpopular views on immigration – views that are considered by many people in Canada to be too radical or even racist.
When it comes to politics, the biggest opposition to Justin Trudeau's "open borders" doctrine comes from Maxime Bernier's People's Party of Canada, but, as it appears, it's also not very popular among voters. PPC got only 1.6% of the votes in the October federal election and did not secure any seats in the House of Commons.

PPC leader Maxime Bernier told Sputnik in an interview on election night that despite losing this year's vote, his party will continue focusing on immigration:
…We opened a debate on immigration, and that's a very important debate that we must have in this country and we will continue to speak about it."
The victory in the election was a pyrrhic one for Justin Trudeau's Liberals, since the country will now have a minority government, which usually means a call for by-elections within the next 18-20 months. But with the Canada's two main political parties – the Liberals and the Tories – being on the same page when it comes to migration issues, it's possible that the "rabbit hole" on the southern border of the Maple Leaf Nation will not be patched in the years to come.
All photos © Denis Bolotsky
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