Faced with the humanitarian crisis that affects the greater American city, free travel passes are distributed to migrants, including those wishing to travel to Canada.
Most asylum seekers who travel to Roxham Road arrive in the US city of Plattsburgh, often by bus, before taking a taxi to the Canada-US border. (File photo)
Traveling to Roxham Road with a bus ticket paid for by the American authorities is possible. asylum seekers who wish to go to another location, a New York City spokesperson confirmed to Radio-Canada.
For several months, the City of New York has been facing to an unprecedented crisis.
Several Republican states send hundreds of people arriving from Mexico to the northeast of the country every week, by different means of transport. And New York's newly opened migrant assistance centers are overwhelmed.
New York City, led by Democrat Eric Adams, has therefore made the decision to help [these people] get to their final destination, even if it's not New York,” said publicist Kate Smart.
“A lot of people who got here by bus didn't want to go to New York, didn't plan to, or didn't want to stay here long term.
— New York City spokeswoman Kate Smart
Community organizations have also helped issue transit passes for those who want to go elsewhere, said she clarified.
Migrants arriving on US soil in southern states are not welcome.
However, Mayor Adams' cabinet does not admit to funding transportation tickets to Roxham Road. It therefore does not help to cross the Canada-US border by this road which has become world famous.
In fact, people who want to can go all the way to Plattsburgh by coach. In the bus terminal of this American city located about thirty minutes from the border, a real industry, very lucrative, has organized itself to then drop off migrants at Roxham Road.
Taxi drivers wait for them in vehicles that mark the border and Roxham Road to take that last step before entering Canada.
We don't treat Plattsburgh any differently than any other city, Mayor Adams' team said.
An American newspaper, the New York Post, went there, in Plattsburgh, and met migrants whose tickets had been paid for by the American public authorities.< /p>
Does Mayor Adams know that these people will then go to Canada? His firm did not respond to this question posed by Radio-Canada.
Roxham Road has seen record traffic for over a year. Last year, more than 39,000 people used this route to enter Canada.
In Plattsburgh , taxi drivers offer to take migrants to Roxham Road.
Due to the Safe Third Country Agreement, signed in 2002 between Canada and the United States, these migrants cannot present themselves at an official customs post. According to this agreement, they must apply for asylum in the first of the two countries they pass through.
However, this agreement does not regulate irregular entries, such as those made by taking Roxham Road. Once in Canada, these people have the right to apply for refugee status.
This loophole has been the subject of discussion between Canadian and American authorities for a long time. several years. Justin Trudeau's government wants to modernize this text, but discussions are slow to reach a conclusion.
While questioning the relevance [for the American government] of paying tickets to go to Canada, the Quebec Minister of Immigration, Christine Fréchette, calls for rapid action on the part of Ottawa.
There is an emergency, she claimed Tuesday during a press briefing.
“[This story] above all demonstrates the importance of resolving the problem of Roxham Road and this agreement. We are waiting for this negotiation to be concluded so that the Agreement applies to the entire border. »
— Christine Fréchette, Quebec Minister of Immigration
This question also came up in the House of Commons. In the eyes of the Bloc Québécois, “the Americans are ridiculing the government [of Justin Trudeau]”.
“Americans must be kidding themselves when they hear Canada say that it is negotiating to modernize the 'Agreement on safe third countries,' argued MP Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe while calling for a suspension of this agreement.
In response, Federal Immigration Minister Sean Fraser clarified that this is “not a good solution”.
“We have a agreement and principles to protect the rights of refugees. It's one of Canadian values,” said Marco Mendicino, Minister of Public Security.
RCMP officers work day and night on Roxham Road to welcome and arrest asylum seekers who arrive in Canada in large numbers. (File photo)
In December, nearly 4,700 people passed through this route to enter Canada.
According to our information , despite the cold and harsh weather conditions, the flow does not stop. Everything indicates that the increase could even continue in 2023.
Days when more than 200 people arrive at Roxham Road are becoming more frequent, according to police sources .
The nationalities of asylum seekers are also varied. In addition to the Haitians, who are still very present, there are more and more Venezuelans, Turks and even Afghans.