It is often said that Canadians are a ‘very polite’ people and they certainly are proving it with the unprecedented welcome the country is giving asylum-seekers surging across its borders in recent months.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police reports high numbers of illegal crossings primarily into remote areas of the province of Quebec directly north of the New York border.
A short, 3-foot plastic marker reading, U.S. and Canada,” is the only designation of an official border.
Cabdrivers contact the U.S. Border Patrol when fares request Roxham Road, a quiet rural road in northern New York state, as their destination and, although the customers are still driven to the location, immigration officials are then able to stop the cab to check paperwork and ask questions, although the Border Patrol may not detain a non-citizen if their passport and visa are in order.
Those who do not take cabs to the border at the end of Roxham Road simply walk along a well-worn path in the snow across the border to be arrested by the Canadian police standing on the other side.
A 2002 agreement between the U.S. and Canada, The Safe Third Country Agreement, requires asylum-seekers to stop in the first country they reach, and was designed to put an end to what was termed, “asylum shopping.”
The Royal Canadian Mounties say they check the papers of anyone who comes across the border in these rural areas, and if a criminal background check indicates they are not a threat, they are turned over to the Canada Border Services Agency to file the appropriate paperwork requesting asylum in Canada.
The number of such applications has surged in the past month, rising from 137 in January 2016 to 452 in January 2017.