Canada Must Stop Illegal Border Crossings At Roxham Road

Canadians gladly support refugees from places like Syria and Afghanistan as well as regular immigrants. Careful vetting is important to both, maximizing the likelihood that they will be socially and economically successful.

In 2022 almost 40,000 unvetted asylum seekers were apprehended at Roxham Road in Quebec, 5,000 of them in December. Most are economic migrants. They consume resources that should be supporting refugees and Canadians who are living precariously or homeless. The number is destined to spiral upward.

Last year 2.7 million people were caught trying to cross into the US from Mexico. Some of them were able to make asylum claims. While waiting for a backlogged process to deal with them they disappear into the country, along with others who escaped detection at the border.

Many are fleeing poverty and violence in Central American countries. More recently they have been joined by Haitians, Cubans, and Venezuelans. Social service agencies in Arizona and Texas are overwhelmed by the numbers.

Meanwhile, Washington, New York, and Chicago have declared themselves to be sanctuary cities. They have laws, ordinances, or other regulations that obstruct immigration enforcement and people from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The Governors of Arizona and Texas began sending busloads of asylum seekers to those cities. There is a bit of grandstanding about this but those sent north benefitted from a welcoming and safe environment.

By October 2022, New York Mayor Eric Adams declared a state of emergency as the number of people in New York City’s overwhelmed homeless shelters soared.

He now buys them bus fare to move on, calling it a “reticketing process” for people who arrive in the city but want to go elsewhere, including Plattsburg which has easy access to Roxham Road.

The number of asylum seekers arriving in Quebec last year doubled the pre-covid annual number. Thanks to the bus fares from the governors of Arizona and Texas, and New York’s mayor, that number is set to spike upward.

Unsurprisingly Quebec’s capacity to support newcomers is already stretched. The CBC reports that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada began transferring migrants arriving in Quebec to Ottawa and Niagara Falls in July as Quebec’s shelter system reached capacity. Now, Ontario’s resources are being stretched and claimants are being sent to other provinces. The first 15 have arrived in Nova Scotia.

Each of the claimants receives health care, social assistance, schooling for their children and a work permit while their claim winds its way through a years-long determination process. It will not be long before every province’s capacity is swamped.

Unvetted illegal arrivals will require extra support, so 100,000 of them will displace an even larger number of regular immigrants, many of whom have been recruited for their valuable skills in areas such as health care and construction.

The Roxham Road problem was accelerated in 2017 by Trudeau’s ill-advised tweet: “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength.”

Last June he said that supporting troubled countries is important but added, “We’ll just keep accepting people. We need to do that, and we will, because that’s the country we are.” That expanded his 2017 tweet to include all comers.

On Monday Premier François Legault urged Trudeau to redirect all asylum seekers entering Quebec to other provinces “as soon as they arrive at the border.” He says it is now more difficult to provide humane, adequate accommodation and services to asylum seekers who are “struggling to find adequate housing and increasingly becoming homeless.”

He also wants Quebec to be paid hundreds of millions for their costs during 2021 and 2022.Of course, shipping asylum seekers to other provinces merely relocates the problem.

The Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement allows Canada to send asylum seekers at official border crossings back to apply for asylum there, but so far that does not apply to Roxham Road. Legault’s intervention appears to have awakened Trudeau to the gravity of the situation.

On Wednesday he reversed course, saying, “There are continually ongoing conversations [with the United States] about how we can ensure that it’s not beneficial for people to try and cross the border at great personal expense, at great personal risk, in some cases, to try and get into Canada.”

The US ambassador denied that is happening.

Canada can’t take no for an answer. If necessary, block the border at Roxham Road. Pay Plattsburg taxi drivers to take the asylum seekers back. Use social media to make it clear that crossing illegally at Roxham Road will not be accepted.

Canada’s immigration program has been good for refugees and regular immigrants. If Roxham Road is not resolved, our successful immigration program risks being severely weakened, along with public support.


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