When you have flyers in Plattsburgh telling people how to break into Canada, you know there is a border crisis.
Plattsburgh, N.Y. is a small town of a little less than 20,000 people nestled on the shores of Lake Champlain. Located about a 90 minute drive south of Montreal, it is part of cottage country for that part of the world, a place you flee to, not from.
Which is why it has puzzled me for more than a year now that our biggest source of asylum seekers come from the United States via this picturesque region.
Now it is even worse.
According to reports first published by Quebec’s TVA News, people staying in Plattsburgh hotel rooms are being greeted by flyers explaining how to enter Canada illegally.
The guide states that by taking a taxi to Roxham, an irregular entry point, migrants will be able to apply for asylum in Canada. The document mentions that the application can not be made at the border crossing, that migrants will have to turn around to seek asylum in the United States, where they will be arrested, imprisoned and deported.
The flyer, reportedly widely available in the region, tells would be refugees that a taxi to Roxham Road shouldn’t cost more than $77.50. It also describes Roxham Road as “the irregular unofficial crossing.”
Detailed instructions given.
The flyer, produced by Plattsburgh Cares, includes a warning that all luggage should be taken with you.
A copy of the flyer, posted on the Plattsburgh Cares website is eye opening.
Would be asylum seekers are told, among other things,
- The short path at the end of Roxham Road leads to Canada. Canadian offcials are there to warn everyone they will be arrested. No one on the American side will stop you on the short path to Canada.
- You may be told by Canadian officials to cross at the regular border instead, which is six miles away. By foot, this trip can be dangerous in cold weather
- Once you cross at the irregular border, the Canadian Constitution applies, and you may be able to claim asylum.
- You may be asked if your home country should be notified of your presence in Canada. If you are afraid of returning home, ask for a lawyer before answering this question.
Would be asylum seekers are also given phone numbers for lawyers in Montreal that will take their case. They are told how to obtain healthcare services. They are warned against using official border crossings.
This is a problem for the whole country.
This is a bigger question in Quebec than in the rest of Canada. Quebec has had to deal with more illegal crossers than any other province by far.
They also have a media that is not afraid to ask blunt questions on immigration.
Anyway, here is how this all played out in the House of Commons on Thursday.