Free bus tickets to Plattsburgh key step for Canadian-bound asylum seekers

Published: Feb. 8, 2023 at 6:18 PM EST
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CHAMPLAIN, N.Y. (WCAX) - Migrants seeking asylum in Canada continue to use the unofficial border crossing in Champlain, New York, in large numbers. And that number could increase now that New York City officials are giving free bus tickets to Plattsburgh.

Local taxi drivers say on given say they take around 5 trips up to the small unofficial border crossing at Roxham Road for asylum seekers to get into Canada. On Wednesday, that included Mahammadid Ibrahim Abrar and his family, who willingly accept the threat of arrest as they illegally crossed into Canada today. It’s just the latest step in a long journey that started in Afghanistan and spans several countries.

“Now, because we have problem in Afghanistan and we’ve been threatened by Taliban, so we have come to seek asylum in Canada,” Abrar said.

The arrest by Canadian authorities is a formality the asylum seekers are subjected to on their way to Montreal and beyond. Abrar says they were helped by a company called Canadian Project Afghanistan, which helped get them to the border.

This week news broke that the city of New York is giving asylum seekers free one-way tickets to Plattsburgh. “Bus up to the Plattsburgh. Up from Plattsburgh took a taxi,” Abrar explained.

Thousands of refugees head to the border crossing each year. FCJ Refugee Center in Ontario says last year was their highest number -- more than 92,000 -- with thousands of them crossing at Roxham Road.

“It’s good, yeah. It’s good that people are helping. So, we are appreciating United States and also Canada. Where we are going now, we will see,” Abrar said.

Despite the free tickets to Plattsburgh, the refugee center in Canada says they haven’t seen an uptick yet.

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