In recent months, there has been a notable surge in illegal border crossings along the U.S.-Canada border, particularly in New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire counties. This shift has been attributed to migrants attempting to avoid heightened security measures at the southern border. According to a New York Times report, U.S. officials at the northern border recorded 191,603 encounters with individuals crossing into the United States in 2023, marking a 41% increase from the previous year. While most migrants still use legal ports of entry, there has been a significant rise in illegal crossings, with over 12,200 apprehensions in 2023, constituting a 241% increase from the previous year.
The surge in illegal entries has raised concerns among border patrol officials, with the Swanton Sector, covering Vermont and parts of New York and New Hampshire, experiencing a record-breaking increase. Border Patrol Chief Patrol Agent Robert Garcia reported over 3,100 apprehensions since October 2023, surpassing the total for fiscal years 2022, 2021, 2020, and 2019 combined. Notably, 10 Bangladesh citizens were recently arrested in Champlain, N.Y., highlighting the diverse backgrounds of those attempting to cross illegally.
The challenging conditions along the northern border have led to increased risks for migrants, with some getting lost in the woods for hours or suffering hypothermia. Despite these challenges, there is a growing need for enhanced monitoring and security measures along the northern border, with calls for more “boots on the ground.” Currently, around 2,200 Border Patrol agents oversee the U.S.-Canada border, which stretches 5,525 miles.
In response to the surge, Canadian government officials are contemplating imposing a visa requirement for Mexican travelers, aiming to address the flow of asylum seekers. However, no such measures are in place yet. Tragically, several migrants, including families and children, have been found frozen to death while attempting to cross the border. Federal prosecutors are actively pursuing cases against human smuggling operations that exploit migrants seeking to enter the United States.
Plattsburgh, N.Y., has emerged as a layover stop for migrants crossing the Canadian border, negotiating transportation deals to reach destinations like New York City. This trend has strained local resources, with gas stations becoming meeting points for migrants in need, and motels obligated to accommodate travelers during freezing temperatures. The situation underscores the complexities of border security and immigration policies, with both the U.S. and Canada grappling with the challenges posed by increasing illegal crossings along their shared border.