While the case has no “direct link” to the closure of Roxham Road, the death of several migrants at Akwesasne does illustrate that increased border control measures risk “creating even more deaths”. , fear specialists and the community network.
“Certainly we cannot make the direct causal link with Roxham in this case, as the people were going to the United States. But in general, we know that the increase in border controls and deterrence measures has the effect that people take more dangerous paths with smugglers and criminal networks,” explains the holder of the Research Chair in Immigration from Concordia University, Mireille Paquet.
She argues that tighter border measures, such as the closure of Roxham Road last week, “often increase the number of deaths and injuries” among migrants.
The professor specializing in regional immigration and citizen mobilization Chedly Belkhodja also agrees. “It’s really unfortunate that this all happened a week after the widespread media coverage around Roxham, but these people wouldn’t have gone through this anyway,” he clarifies from the outset.
That said, “the fear now is that even more risky passages will appear organized by people who are ready to take people on boats.” “This reality has existed for a long time, especially in this region, but with everything that is happening now, it is possible that it will increase a notch, that we will see people who are literally ready for anything” , continues Mr. Belkhodja.
In the eyes of the spokesperson for the Action Committee for People Without Status, Frantz André, the death of these migrants – there were at least eight of them at the end of the day on Friday whose death had been confirmed – is “very worrying”. “For us, it was something that was predictable, and we weren’t the only ones saying that. That it happens just a few days after Roxham Road, that, on the other hand, we did not expect. It’s really worrying,” says Mr. André.
He says he has perceived “extreme distress” for several days in several migrants, who contact him in search of answers.
“In the United States, it has become too expensive for many, and others are outright afraid of being deported. These people are left on their own, with no answers. It is certain that what we see today, it will happen again tomorrow, ”laments Mr. André, visibly affected by the news.
He also calls the agreement reached last week between Ottawa and Washington to close Roxham Road an “arbitrary decision”.
At the collective Care for social justice, the doctor Nazila Bettache also affirms that “these deaths were foreseeable”. “Just like the deaths on the US-Mexico border, just like the deaths in the Mediterranean, these deaths are the result of a system designed to endanger people who everyone knows will not stop and cannot stop coming,” she insisted on Friday.
“We all know that even more people will die as a result of the recent expansion of the Safe Third Country Agreement. This extension is supposed to make migrants invisible to citizens here. But we will not be invisible. Our lives and our deaths are important,” said Solidarity Across Borders spokesperson Hady Anne.
His colleague Samira Jasmin for his part argued during the day on Friday that “nothing comes by chance”. “These immigration policies are putting human lives at risk!” We cross the border for a better world, and we find ourselves facing death. »