RCMP Recorded Misinforming Migrants at Roxham Road Informal Border Crossing
Roxham Road, 20 December 2017 – Solidarity Across Borders has obtained a recording from independent monitors at the Roxham Road site near Champlain, New York in which an RCMP officer orders migrants to “take the bus back and go to Port of Entry …”. If the refugees had listened, their asylum claims would have been rejected at the regular border crossing, due to the Safe Third Country Agreement between Canada and the United States.
"Why are the RCMP giving false messages to people seeking refuge in Canada?" says Claire Abraham, a spokesperson from Montreal migrant justice group Solidarity Across Borders. "This is profoundly dangerous and absolutely unacceptable. The potential consequences for people’s lives is enormous: it destroys the possibility of getting permanent status through a refugee claim. It can lead to deportation or years of living underground as undocumented migrants."
Between January and November of 2017, over 15,000 migrants courageously entered Canada from the United States by simply walking across the border at informal crossing points such as Roxham Road. Though subject to very long waiting periods before their cases are heard and processed, refugee claims made in this way are at least considered. But under the Safe Third Country Agreement, refugee claims made at official land crossings from the United States, like Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, are rejected outright.
This is not the first time that observers at the border have reported RCMP using misinformation, intimidation, harassment and violence. Likewise, Liberal government officials have attempted to dissuade migrants from crossing irregularly, but have clearly stated they will not consider repealing the Safe Third Country policy. This leaves migrants with little choice.
"The attempts to portray the Canadian immigration regime as welcoming is a blatant branding exercise," Abraham says. “If Canada is really so welcoming, why is the RCMP on the border telling people not to enter?”
"Every human being should be free to seek a better life, regardless of the national boundaries they cross in order to do so," she continues. "The RCMP must stop its practice of misinformation and intimidation of migrants at informal crossings. The Safe Third Country Agreement should be repealed and the borders opened. We demand full regularization of all non-status people living in Canada, and an end to deportation and detention."