There was a dead calm on Saturday morning south of the US border. Apparently, the word got out: since midnight, Roxham Road has been closed to asylum seekers hoping to find refuge in Canada.
The scene contrasted with the race against the clock which started the day before to cross the famous breach before it closed at midnight sharp.
“Stop! Stop! Stop! repeated the agent at the Canadian border to a small family dropped off by a taxi who were walking wearily towards the dirt road.
A little girl in a pink coat clutched a stuffed animal, while her long-faced mother pulled a heavy suitcase behind her. “You’re under arrest,” the officer thundered once their feet landed in Canadian territory.
Escorted by the authorities, the family rushed into a building where a dozen migrants were waiting without saying a word. Was she aware that passage was now prohibited?
In the space of more than five hours, they were the only ones to have crossed the path, now barred to irregular asylum seekers.
Garbage was strewn on the ground frozen by the cold, the only witnesses of the crush that took place there the day before. Until one to midnight, dozens of migrants rushed to the entry point at the end of a dirt cul-de-sac, hoping to reach it in time. Some missed their chance.
Under the new agreement between the United States and Canada, the Safe Third Country Agreement now applies to all land border entry points between the two countries.
People trying to enter Canada are now arrested and can be sent back to the United States. Certain exceptions are provided for, in particular for people who have family in Canada or for unaccompanied minors.
At the scene, New York State Assemblyman Billy Jones voiced his concerns about the new deal, which he and everyone else learned about just hours before Roxham Road closed.
“I’m sure a lot of people don’t have [social media] and won’t know it’s closed. We could have a huge problem,” he lamented.
The elected Democrat is convinced of this: migrants will continue to attempt to cross the border, only in more dangerous conditions.
“If vans full of immigrants show up here hoping to get through and they realize they’re not allowed in, what do we do?” How do we host them? “raised a supervisor from the city of Champlain, Thomas Tremblay, who also came for a walk on Saturday morning.
In the past year, congestion due to the constant ballet of taxis carrying migrants has become an issue for the citizens of the small American municipality.
“Some people are really against it, while others are concerned and want to try to help them if they can,” said Mr. Tremblay.