FLORIDA | The migrant found frozen to death near the US border last week may have been the victim of a smuggler who left him, in the middle of a snowstorm, too far from his illegal crossing point to the United States.< /strong>
According to the widow of the deceased man, he argued with the Montreal smuggler, paid at a high price, before arriving at the border. He suffered heavy consequences.
“The smuggler made him get out of the car in the middle of the forest and let him go in the wrong direction in the middle of a storm”, underlines Guenda Filius in an interview, very distressed by the tragic death of her husband, Fritznel Richard.
The victim who died due to the cold, Fritznel Richard.
Ms. Filius was, in a way, witnessing the drama live, since her husband contacted her by telephone as soon as he was expelled from the smuggler's car, near Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, in Montérégie, on the evening of December 23.
“I told him to call the police, but he didn't, and he tried to cross the border on foot anyway,” she explains.
“It's very sad. It's so tragic,” she says, devastated, her voice broken by emotion.
Three days without news
< p>We met her on the west coast of Florida, where she is staying with relatives. At her request, we will not specify the city where she is located for security reasons.
For her, it is clear that the smuggler has put her husband's life in danger because of the extreme winter conditions. The December 23 storm was marked by heavy snowfall and strong winds.
Mr. Richard was spotted, lifeless, just steps from the border, on the Canadian side, by a helicopter from US authorities late last week.
His disappearance had been reported on December 26 by Ms. Filius, three days after she had lost contact with him. According to the Sûreté du Québec, everything indicates that he died of hypothermia.
The migrant was trying to enter the United States illegally to find his wife and little boy in Florida.  ;
He had spent several months in Montreal, after arriving in the country via Roxham Road from the United States. He was trying to obtain refugee status in Canada.
Aided by the same smuggler
Mrs. Filius knows the smuggler her husband used well. In October, she used her services from Montreal to cross the US border. She was luckier since everything went without a hitch.
All she had to do was walk about ten minutes in the woods from the point where she was dropped off by the smuggler to find herself in the USA. Once past, she called a cab which took her to the Plattsburgh bus station.
On the other hand, the bill was hefty: $1,300 for a journey of barely 45 minutes between Montreal and the border.
She obtained the coordinates of the smuggler by chance from a conversation with other migrants.
Despite our attempts, it was impossible to speak with the smuggler in question.
< em>– With the collaboration of Camille Payant
NUMBER OF PEOPLE ARRESTED IN 2022 BY US BORDER AGENTS:
- January: 24
- April: 84
- July: 142< /li>
- September: 236
- November: 393
“We had no money”
Guenda Filius currently lives surrounded by her family and her 19-month-old little boy, of whom Fritznel Richard was the father, in a modest house in Florida, near a busy shopping center.
She confides that she was never able to get used to life in Quebec, where she only spent a few months after arriving, like her husband, in the country via Roxham Road.
Met in Florida where she lives Guenda Filius is currently mourning her husband, who was allegedly abandoned by a smuggler.
“We had no money. It was cold and I got sick,” she says of her desire to return to the United States.
No work permit
She and her husband wanted to work in Montreal to improve their lot while waiting for the eventual obtaining of refugee status.
However, they were never able to obtain a work permit, because of the administrative delays that currently exist at Immigration Canada.
Remember that applicants for refugee status cannot make a asks Canada if they are coming from the United States and vice versa, under the “Safe Third Country Agreement” signed by the two countries.
Between August and last November, 54 migrants of Haitian origin were arrested by the US customs service coming from Canada.
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