Asylum seekers at a remote border crossing in Champlain, New York, are now being greeted with a sign that says it is illegal to cross into Canada and that they could be returned to the United States if caught.
Late last week, U.S. President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a plan to close a loophole to an immigration agreement that has allowed thousands of asylum-seeking immigrants to move between the two countries along Roxham Road, which links New York state to the Canadian province of Quebec.
The new policy says that asylum seekers without U.S. or Canadian citizenship who are caught within 14 days of crossing anywhere along the border will be sent back. That includes people walking on Roxham Road.
“We are seeing illegal immigration and asylum seekers crossing both sides of the border like we have never seen before,” said Assemblyman Billy Jones.
The deal took effect at 12:01 a.m. Saturday — a quick implementation aimed at avoiding a surge of refugee claimants trying to cross. Jones said he wishes there was more of a warning that the policy was about to change.
“To come out with a decision to close down Roxham Road somewhere around noon on Friday, and to have it go into effect at midnight, it gave nobody a warning,” Jones said. “We don’t have the resources to take care of these people that are coming here that could be stuck in the North Country because they’re expecting to cross Roxham Road.”
A Greyhound bus arriving from New York City only had two migrants looking to cross, down from the dozens at a time just a few days ago. Arefugee from Afghanistan who traveled to Plattsburgh said he traveled from Mexico through the United States looking to seek asylum in Canada. He said he heard that Roxham Road was no longer allowing people through, but thinks he still has a chance because he is a lawyer and understands the law.
Jones said the federal government needs to assist local governments by providing the necessary resources to deal with any migrants that may be stranded in the North Country including food, water, and warm clothing.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.