You’ve all heard of Roxham Road, the notorious Quebec avenue for migrants seeking to illegally cross into Canada from the United States.
Last year alone, 18,518 people crossed into Quebec through Quebec’s irregular point of entry.
While the national spotlight has concentrated on migrant traffic into Ontario and Quebec, British Columbia is also facing an increase in illegal crossings along the province’s border with the state of Washington.
On Monday, I travelled down to the West Coast border alongside Blaine, Washington to investigate the situation.
“0 Ave” is a street located in Surrey, British Columbia which straddles the Canadian border with Washington. Only several kilometres away from the official Pacific Highway Point of entry, 0 Ave is a quiet country road with little to no signage indicating that it is illegal for me to walk over into the United States.
Only a few boulders and a small ditch separate the two countries.
Adjacent to “0 Ave” lies the property of Robert Joseph Boulé, the 69-year old US citizen charged with smuggling 16 people into Canada.
Boulé is being tried under the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, and potentially faces a maximum sentence of ten years imprisonment or a $500,000 fine.
Boulé last appeared at the Surrey Provincial Court on May 6th after being granted $15,000 bail.
The only sign on 0 Ave which indicates that it is in fact illegal to simply walk across the border was erected on Boulé’s property as part of his bail conditions before being allowed to return back to the US.
According to Boulé’s next door neighbors who remain anonymous, migrants have been crossing through the property semi-regularly even trespassing through their own backyards.
“Yeah, lots. I would say five, six [people] a month. They even had one cross my yard the other day,” said Boulé’s neighbour.
According to statistics from 2017, 1,277 people crossed illegally from Washington State into British Columbia. Directly across from Boulé’s property on the Canadian side of the border lies only fields and farmland easily accessible by foot.
“There’s also a field between a couple houses up there that they go through. It’s not just from his property. They come up with red cabs, or yellow cabs,” said Boulé’s neighbour. “They go down this field and go up to 184 [Ave].
According to local residents, US and Canadian border officers patrol their own respective side of the border each day, keeping an eye out for those seeking to cross into either country.
“They don’t ask question, they just watch and see what’s going on,” said the Blaine local. “At least 50 to 60 percent of people who cross here cross from other points than the Smuggler’s.”
0 Ave stretches on from the Pacific Ocean all the way to Abbotsford, B.C. for nearly 30 kilometres relatively unguarded making it an easily accessible “irregular point of entry” into Canada for those seeking to enter the country illegally.