Migrants Choose Arrest In Canada Over Staying In The U.S.
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 trafficked, trodden route through the snow that goes over into Canada. From the ditch, the border is about 15 feet away, and the Mounties — the Canadian police — wait on their side for those who will cross the border next.
"They'll be walking — you'll see whole families, like two adults and like three children most of the time," says Matthew Turner. "They'll be walking down the road with suitcases and backpacks."
Turner and his family moved into a trailer on Roxham Road in October. He says that, since then, he has seen people walking past his house, as well as a steady flow of taxis driving by.
Taxis like the blue Honda minivan that rounds the corner. It's stopped by U.S. Border Patrol agents, but after the officer inspects the passenger's paperwork, the cab is allowed to continue.
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 on their side.
One officer speaks out, saying, "You have to go through the, the custom, the border — but if you do cross here, you'll be arrested and then we'll take you in charge, OK?"
The woman nods and steps toward them. 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.