Illegal border crossings jump in Northern New York

Published: Jul. 31, 2017 at 5:19 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

Taxi after taxi, family after family: With their lives packed in luggage, people from across the world are coming down a dead end in Champlain, New York, called Roxham Road and willfully crossing illegally into Canada.

"The traffic has increased significantly," said Norman Lague, the U.S. Border Patrol agent in charge.

The U.S. Border Patrol says at the start of the year, about 20 people a day crossed here. Now, that number is typically over 100. Canadian border authorities wouldn't give us specific numbers for crossers at this spot but they did tell us it brings the highest number of illegal entries of the entire Quebec province. Data for that area shows Canadian police interceptions at the border since January of this year have more than tripled.

Reporter Tyler Dumont: Since January, have you seen a lot more?

Mike Martineau/Town Taxi: Yes.

Tyler Dumont: Give us a sense of how many routes you're doing.

Mike Martineau: I'm doing about 10 per day.

"They're willing to risk being arrested. They're risking going across and not knowing where they're headed," said Melissa Beshaw, who lives on Roxham Road.

On this day, nearly half a dozen groups got dropped off including children, some still in strollers. We tried to communicate with the adults as they left U.S. territory but a language barrier brought little luck with answers.

"I don't speak English," a man named Benjamin told us.

A significant amount of trash has added up here at the end of the road. It's a symbol as to just how many people are crossing north. It's also a sign as to just how far they've come. A bus ticket among the debris shows a likely crosser started in Miami, Florida, and came all the way to Plattsburgh.

Last week, the Royal Mounted Canadian Police put up a tent and table; it looks more like a customs checkpoint at a port of entry than it does the end of a road. Bags are now inspected on-site, and rather than handcuffs, people are offered water and a seat to sit down before they're taken away in a large van that picks them up. Stress can often run high as some struggle and yell.

"There's a lot of tensions with these people," Beshaw said. "And I can imagine being in their spot, and to leave what we had."

We met people from Haiti, the Dominican Republic and parts of Africa.

We continue to get few answers as to why people are choosing to leave the U.S. and in this manner.