The last remaining RCMP building standing at the Roxham Road crossing point between Canada and the United States was demolished on September 25.
According to RCMP Sgt. Charles Poirier, around 113,000 people have crossed into Canada at Roxham Road since 2017. Since changes were made to the Safe Third Country Agreement between Canada and the United States in March, the number of asylum seekers attempting to irregularly cross has dropped to around 14 per week throughout the entire Champlain sector.
“The number of migrants that cross through Roxham has dwindled, and our presence here is no longer necessary,” said Poirier during a press conference before the building was dismantled. He noted the RCMP will also be ending its 24/7 presence at Roxham, though officers will continue to patrol the border along with U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents.
“So as that building is getting pushed down, they are just pushing the issue further away,” says Frances Ravensbergen, who watched with other members of the Bridges not Borders organization as the installation was demolished. She says a number of those in attendance were quite emotional.
“It wasn’t perfect, but it was a temporary answer and we have taken a step backward,” she adds, noting residents of Hemmingford are still seeing people being picked up. “There are people being returned from Lacolle who are [now] sleeping behind the bus stop in Plattsburgh, and this includes children. That is a reality, for sure,” she says.
Poirier admitted the situation “was easier to manage when everyone was crossing here.” He confirmed that around “99.9 per cent” of irregular crossings took place at Roxham Road, while people are now entering from “all over the territory.” He explained the RCMP is concerned for the security of all those attempting to cross irregularly at greater risk, especially now that the weather is turning colder.
Poirier confirmed there has also been an increase in the number of individuals crossing in the opposite direction (from Canada into the U.S.) in both the Champlain and the Valleyfield sectors, and that the RCMP presumes human smuggling operations tied to organized crime are associated with this development. “Although we have information that the Mexican Cartels are in Canada and are operating, we don’t know if they are behind all of the human smuggling operations,” said Poirier, who noted the RCMP is investigating these networks.
Activity in Dundee
Dundee residents recently received a document in their mailboxes, prepared by Dundee resident Stéphane Gendron, warning about the possible presence of human smuggling operations in the area. In a radio interview with Paul Arcand on September 22, Gendron describes having been followed by the police and a conversation with an RCMP officer; he revealed that citizens have no idea what is happening while they are asleep at night. Gendron has requested a public information meeting with the RCMP and the municipality and is encouraging residents do the same.