U.S. Customs and Border Protection transferred 25 additional officers to the northern border on Monday as the number of migrants from Canada continues to rise.
Some of those officers had previously been assigned to the southern border, NBC News reported.
While illegal crossings at the southern border remain a bigger overall problem, the number of crossings in the north has increased by nearly 850% and is causing concern.
It’s a problem that works both ways – some migrants actually sneak into Canada from the United States, causing a surge in immigration for America’s northern neighbor. Leaders there are demanding to speak to President Joe Biden about the issue.
Migrant families at the Roxham Road border crossing in Quebec
A CBP spokesperson told NBC that his agency had begun temporarily deploying Border Patrol agents from areas ‘not experiencing an influx’ to the Swanton sector of the Canada-US border ‘due to migration fluctuations. along the northern border”.
“Although the number of apprehensions is low compared to other areas with irregular migration flows, the arrests in the Swanton area represent a significant change in this area,” the spokesperson said.
“The deployed team will serve as a force multiplier in the region and help deter and disrupt human trafficking activities taking place within the Swanton Sector area of responsibility.”
The Swanton area, which includes sections of Vermont, New Hampshire and New York, saw an 846% increase in apprehensions from October 2022 to January, compared to the previous year.
Officers apprehended 367 people in January, which they say is more than they have encountered since 2011 combined.
The average annual number of encounters in the Swanton area over the past twelve years is just 28.
The Swanton sector is a 2,200 square mile area with USCBP agents based in Swanton, Vermont.
There is no fence along the level crossing. Much of the area is made up of woods and dirt roads. There are heavy snowfalls and wetlands in the area at this time of year.
Nearly two-thirds of southbound migrants stopped by US border agents in the Swanton area are from Mexico, according to USCP figures.
The border issue works both ways as Canada also receives a flow of migrants – above migrants exit a bus in Plattsburgh, New York, where taxi drivers wait to take them to the Canadian border
Migrants cross the Canada-US border in snowy and freezing conditions
Northern border crossings increased by almost 850%
Representative Elise Stefanik, whose New York district borders Canada, wrote to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas last month complaining about the problem.
She said CBP officers reported 2,238 migrant encounters for all of fiscal year 2022 but, in the first four months of that fiscal year, migrant encounters jumped to 2,227, which is almost over last year’s total.
Migrants who go to Mexico and can afford the $350 one-way airfare from Mexico City or Cancun to Montreal or Toronto then cross into the United States at the northern border, where they are less likely to be turned back only at the southern border.
It is an option that many migrants choose due to the repression at the southern border.
But hypothermia and freezing to death are risks, especially at this time of year, as families make the trek on foot in the cold and snow.
In December, US border agents found themselves providing vital aid to migrants they had found in the cold and snow.
The problem works both ways, as migrants also cross the border between the United States and Canada.
More than 39,000 refugees entered Canada last year through unofficial crossings, the vast majority via Roxham Road connecting Quebec and New York State.
It’s the highest number since 2017 – when it spiked due to President Donald Trump’s crackdown on migrants.
Migrants from Mexico, Venezuela and other countries at the Canadian border
Officers apprehended 367 people in January at the northern border, which they say is more than they have encountered since 2011 combined
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said earlier this month that he planned to discuss border issues with Joe Biden during the president’s visit to Ottawa in March.
Trudeau wants to rewrite the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA), which allows anyone trying to cross the Canada-U.S. border in either direction to be sent back to the first of the two countries they arrived in, with some exceptions close.
But the deal does not cover unofficial border crossings like the Roxham Road route, a dirt road that is seeing a growth in migrant smuggling.
“It will certainly be a conversation that we will continue to have with the US administration, including during the president’s visit,” Trudeau said.
He noted his government had been trying to ‘shut down’ Roxham Road for years by rewriting the STCA.
“The challenge is not to say ‘Oh, we should shut it down. The challenge is how to close it, how to make sure people don’t choose to enter Canada illegally, how to protect the integrity of our immigration system but also how to stay true to the values we have.
Border agents rescued migrants who were freezing in the cold
Some migrants cross by taxi (above) but others take dirt roads at night