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Roxham Road – A trip to the Twilight Zone

May 2018

On a recent road-trip, I made my way to the now infamous Roxham Road, the now-officially-designated unofficial and illegal Point-of-Entry straddling the Canada-American border at Quebec and New York State, where economic migrants come to make their refugee claims in contravention of the Safe Third Country Agreement.

As I was already in the States, I headed to the American side first. I was quickly spotted by one of the half-dozen or so RCMP officers standing beside the new permanent building still under construction.

I parked my car and got out with my camera. I waved to the officers while keeping a respectful distance from the border. One of the officers slowly walked towards their side of the border and I said to him that I was Canadian, that I just wanted to see what all the fuss was about and would cross legally. He seemed satisfied and walked away.

I took a few pictures and then got back into my car to wait to see if any migrants would arrive. After a short period, another officer walked towards the border and I repeated the same as before. I jokingly asked her if they’d had a lot of “customers” today and she replied that she wasn’t allowed to give any details. She then walked away.

After a short wait, I headed to the legal Point-of-Entry and then drove to the Canadian side of Roxham Road. As I was heading out of the Customs Plaza, I saw a plain, blue SUV turn off Montée Glass, the road that heads towards Roxham Road, and turn into the plaza and drive past me. I noticed two CBSA officers inside. If they had just come from Roxham Road this would be significant, as it would be an acknowledgement that it’s now considered a legal Point-of-Entry as CBSA officers are only posted to a legal Point-of-Entry.  If it’s now a legal entry point, then the migrants should be turned back and not allowed entry to Canada as specified in the Safe Third Country Agreement.

After driving a short distance along Roxham Road, I could see two large SUVs parked at the end of the road at the border point. As I felt there was no good spot to park close to the border, I parked in a farm lane a significant distance back, not wanting to piss off the RCMP any more than I already had with my presence.

As I was sitting there, an elderly couple drove up and stopped beside me, thinking I was a cop. I told them I was doing the same thing they were doing and suggested they not go any further than I had, as I suspected the RCMP were getting a little perturbed. My guess would later prove to be correct. They turned around and drove off.

After a short wait here, I tried to program my GPS for my next destination in Long Sault, Ontario, but the GPS was not accepting the address I had in my notebook, so I punched in a general address in Long Sault. Just before I headed off, a marked RCMP truck drove past me. The driver looked at me, but kept on driving.

After driving back onto Montée Glass, I decided to check the original Long Sault address using my I-pad and pulled over to the side of the road. A few seconds later, the same RCMP vehicle drove past me, stopped and reversed.

I got out and walked up to the officer, who just stood there looking at me. I explained what I had been doing at the border and after a short conversation, he seemed satisfied and shook my hand before getting back in his truck and driving off.

The officer was pleasant and professional with me the whole time, but it was a strange experience. Even thought I’d done nothing illegal and had kept a respectful distance, more so on the Canadian side, I couldn’t help but feel that I had in fact done something wrong; that I wasn’t supposed to know what was going on at Roxham Road, or know that this officially-designated unofficial Point-of-Entry even existed.

Is this what Prime Minister Dressup meant by “Sunny Ways?”

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

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