At Roxham Road, Refugees Find a Loophole and Safe Passage to Canada

Dec. 1, 2019

A Palestinian family from Gaza carries their belongings across the barrier at the end of Roxham Road in Mooers, N.Y., as they attempt to claim asylum in Canada.

Roxham Road — a 30-minute cab ride from Plattsburgh and less than an hour’s drive from Montreal — is enticingly open. That has made Roxham the most porous northbound spot on the border.

The minivan turned onto a short country road, chugging past a farm, a group of horses in a field, a few trailer homes, and a house decorated with an array of windmills and flags. The vehicle was decorated with white-block letters that made it clear where the driver would take the occupants: “BORDERLINE TAXI” on the door, “REFUGEE BORDER” on the window.

The driver pulled up past the final house and put the vehicle in park. This was the end of the road, and the end of the country. Canada was just a few steps away, on the other side of a ditch and a smattering of concrete barriers that didn’t form a wall, or even a fence. They would stop a car from passing through, but not a person, and not a family. There was a sign, written in both French and English, that read:

Stop
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