Provincial police confirmed the death on Thursday
A man was found dead on Wednesday near Roxham Road, a common passage between the United States and Canada used by migrants to claim asylum.
The man was a migrant who was trying to cross the unofficial border, according to police sources who spoke to Radio-Canada on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
The Sûreté du Québec (SQ), Quebec's provincial police force, confirmed the death on Thursday morning. The circumstances of the death remain unclear.
"We will investigate the cause of death, it will take some time," said Louis-Philippe Ruel, a spokesperson for the SQ. "We are trying to determine how he got there, where he was coming from, where he was going and who he was."
The SQ confirmed the body of the man was discovered on Wednesday afternoon between Roxham Road and the Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle border crossing, about five kilometres away. Officers were using off-road vehicles, metal detectors andsniffer dogs to search an area east of Roxham Road on Thursday afternoon.
His nationality is unknown.
Roxham Road is an unofficial border crossing that straddles the Canadian-American border between Quebec and the state of New York.
According to the federal government, 45,250 asylum seekers arrived in Quebec between January and November 2022, most of them via unofficial entry points like Roxham Road. In 2021, 7,290 would-be refugees entered the country through the province.
While a CBC journalist was at Roxham Road on Thursday, a group of people arrived in a van on the New York side and entered Canada despite border guards warning them that crossing was illegal and if they entered they would be arrested.
Quebec Premier François Legault has said the province is unable to keep up with the volume of refugee claimants crossing at Roxham Road. In May 2022, Quebec asked the federal government to close the unofficial border crossing.
Migrants have died before while trying to cross the border. In 2019, a man from the Dominican Republic was found dead in Canada near Roxham Road, the Washington Post reported. In January 2022, the bodies of four Indian migrants were found in Manitoba near the U.S. border.
In 2016, two asylum seekers lost fingers to frostbite when they crossed from the United States into Manitoba on a bitterly cold Christmas Eve.
Chantal Ianniciello, an immigration lawyer, said when she heard about the migrant's death near Roxham Road, her first thought was "not again."
"We've heard those stories over and over again in the past years, especially in winter," she said. "Not everybody dies of course, but we have heard of stories of (amputations due to frostbite), people being found frozen, lying down on the snow.
"I find it very sad. I find it shocking and it's a story that's repeating itself again."
The office of Sean Fraser, Canada's minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship, issued a statement saying he was saddened to hear the news of the man's death.
"Our hearts go out to their family," the statement said. "We cannot speculate on why people decide to cross the border between ports of entry."
In 2017 an unprecedented number of people were crossing into Canada illegally from the United States at Roxham Road to claim asylum. And in just two years, about 50,000 migrants have entered Canada through this unofficial entry point. Today on Front Burner, CBC’s Susan Ormiston returns to Roxham Road to unpack how it became internationally known as a de facto border crossing for those seeking refugee status in Canada.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Matthew Lapierre is a digital journalist at CBC Montreal. He previously worked for the Montreal Gazette and The Globe and Mail. You can reach him at email@example.com.
With files from Radio-Canada, Sarah Leavitt and Valeria Cori-Manocchio
Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca