Royal Canadian Mounted Police are reporting a flurry of illegal crossings into Canada in recent months. Officials say Quebec province has seen the highest influx of people seeking asylum, with many crossing in snowy, remote areas in northern New York.
One illegal crossing area that has become particularly popular among immigrants is in Champlain, N.Y., in the northeast corner of the state. At the end of Roxham Road, there’s a big dead end and a “Road Closed” sign — but there’s also a very heavily trodden route through the snow that goes over into Canada.
At the road’s end, a young woman with an infant gets out of the taxi. She doesn’t want to talk and seems to have limited English. She hugs the baby to her chest and, with her free hand, pulls a black suitcase on wheels. As she moves toward the ditch, several Canadian police officers approach. The Canadian policeman offers to carry her baby as she makes her way through the slippery snow path. She hands the child to him and then takes the hand of another officer who helps her to the road on the Canadian side. The police bring out a child car seat and place it in their cruiser. The woman is arrested, and she and her child are driven away from the border. The whole thing takes about six minutes.
People who work with immigrants in Canada say these border-jumpers would rather be arrested in Canada than live in fear of how U.S. officials might handle their cases.
Cpl. Camille Habel, spokeswoman with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, says “Once we confirm that they’re not a threat to national security, we hand them over to [the Canadian Border Service Agency] who then start the immigration process.”