Crush of refugees still crossing into Canada from North Country

Published: Aug. 6, 2018 at 6:28 PM EDT
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For more than a year now, WCAX News has shown you dramatic images from Northern New York as hundreds of refugees every month stream across the border and into the waiting arms of Canadian authorities.

Nearly 20,000 of them took a combination of buses and taxis to end up here last year. And while the numbers have dropped somewhat, the refugees keep coming.

Our Kelly O'Brien was there Monday as one mother made a heartbreaking choice.

To many people, Roxham Road in Champlain, New York, is just a dead end. But to refugees who use this road every day, it's their pathway to freedom.

"I don't know what to do," Ogunnyi Olayinka said.

After unloading the taxi cab, Olayinka stood for 45 minutes contemplating one of the toughest decisions she'll ever make.

"I've made the decision," she finally said.

In April, Olayinka left Nigeria with her two young children for a better life in the United States.

"I think the place would be OK for me and the kids," she said. "The place is OK, but no way for me to work. If I don't work, I can't feed them. So it's like I'm running away from firepont to fire."

Choosing to flee is a decision many refugees are now faced with. Olayinka and her family weren't the only ones seeking asylum while we were here.

Taxi drivers told WCAX News off camera that this is still one of their main destinations. One taxi driver had a refugee from Bangladesh. Another said he makes the trip about seven times a day. And that's just one driver from one company ferrying people like Olayinka to what they hope will be a better life in Canada.

"What I'm running away from I'm unable to get it there," Olayinka said.

Olayinka and her children crossed the border into Canada.