Here’s a crazy idea: What if we actually sent the signal to the thousands of people crossing illegally into Canada that they shouldn’t be crossing illegally into Canada?
Take a look at the Google Maps street view of Roxham Rd., the rural road that runs up to the Canada-U.S. border in Champlain, N.Y., and Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Que. It’s a pretty old image, dated September 2011.
There’s a space of about 10 metres of grass that breaks up the two roads, making it clear this is not a throughway. The grass is very lush. None of it has been tamped down, there’s no natural foot path that’s developed from regular traffic. Because, of course, it’s illegal to cross there, either by vehicle or foot.
That was then. It all looks very different now. We’ve since added trailers, tents, chairs, desks and bathrooms. There’s food available on site. What should only be an empty meeting of two dead roads has since turned into a busy border crossing.
It shouldn’t be this way. Go just four kilometres to the east and you’ll find the official Lacolle crossing. Or go to the west just six kilometres and you’ll come to the official Hemmingford crossing. There is no shortage of real border crossings for people looking to enter Canada.
Yet, the more than 7,000 people who have crossed at Roxham Rd. so far this year have avoided these entry points. They know they’ll be turned away from official ports because while Canada accepts refugees from around the world, we don’t accept them from the United States. However due to a loophole in our agreement with the U.S., they can make a claim if they manage to get across the border illegally.