Wednesday, June 6, 2018

The Migrant Crisis, American Style

Photo credit: Yanky Pollack
An eyewitness account from an unmanned border crossing
Crossing the southern border was more difficult than I expected. After telling the border officer that I’m a journalist coming down to report on illegal border crossings, I was sent to another building for more questioning. Accompanied by an intern and a local freelance photographer with dual citizenship, we were brought into a holding room for secondary screening. After a few rounds of questions and a thorough search of our car, the border officials finally let us cross. We drove less than three miles down an inconspicuous country road and arrived at a popular illegal border crossing—the location where upwards of 95 percent of illegal border crossings take place, according to recent statistics.
When we pulled up, we were greeted by a group of activists who had mistaken us for migrants. I spoke to two people from Amnesty International and a humanitarian activist who later told me she was also a local government official. Within 10 minutes, the first car arrived: a taxi carrying an African family of four. The activists handed out water and hats as the family gathered their belongings and went straight across the unmanned border. Within a few minutes, another taxi, carrying another African family, did the exact same thing. Another journalist was at this location a few days later, and in her 31-minute Periscope video she captured dozens of migrants—including people from Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Haiti, and Jordan—forming a steady flow across the border. She recorded two different limousine buses dropping off well-dressed migrants with piles of suitcases to walk across the border. Some refused to be interviewed; others happily recounted the steps they had taken to get to the border to claim asylum. One women described in detail why she was taking this risk—for my children, she said, for their safety and their education.
Photo credit: Yanky Pollack
We were witnessing the global migration crisis, unfolding on our porous southern border, with our own eyes. But this is a different southern border than the one you might see and read about in the news. My colleagues and I are Canadian, and this is the scene at Roxham Road in Champlain, New York, where migrants illegally cross into the rural community of Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Quebec, Canada.
More than 600 migrants crossed at this one location over Easter weekend, and border officials expect as many as 400 per day during the summer months. Last year was a record year for illegal immigration. Canada received 50,440 asylum applications—double the number of the previous year and five times higher than in recent years. Approximately 20,500 of these asylum seekers crossed the border illegally into Canada, most right here at Roxham Road. And 2018 looks to be an even more challenging year. During the first four months of 2018, about 7,500 migrants crossed into Canada illegally—a pace three times higher than last year.
Read the rest from Candice Malcolm HERE.

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