The Canadian police officer at the border was adamant: If you cross here, you will immediately be arrested. The Haitian woman dragged her bulging suitcase across the dirt-covered mound to the Canadian side anyway.
She was determined. And so were the mother and her four teenage children who came after, and the Latino family of three after them, and the 39-year-old Haitian father of four who soon followed, his friends keeping a watchful eye in a waiting car as he jumped out of a taxi cab.
While U.S. President Donald Trump is clamping down on illegal immigration, thousands of migrants from Haiti, Central America and Africa are rushing to this border crossing in upstate New York, willing to face arrest in their pursuit of a better life. The popular stop near the border station at Lacolle, Quebec, is quickly becoming a path to a new life for immigrants — and something of a tourist attraction.
The migrant surge has overwhelmed Canadian officials who, after opening Olympic Stadium in Montreal to asylum seekers, this week reopened a shuttered hospital to accommodate the growing numbers and deployed the military to construct a tent city near the official border crossing at St. Bernard-de-Lacolle. By Saturday, 32 Army-green tents, each with the capacity to hold 16 people, had already been constructed, and soldiers planned to put up 13 more before day’s…