Northern Border Sees Overwhelming Surge Of Illegal Immigrants

Flood of illegal immigrants at U.S.-Canada border puts strain on law enforcement already overwhelmed down south

Asylum seekers that stated they were from Afghanistan cross into Canada at Roxham Road, an unofficial crossing point from New York State to Quebec in Champlain, New York, U.S. March 24, 2023. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi
March 30, 2023

Illegal border crossings from Canada into the United States have spiked by the thousands this fiscal year, according to internal Department of Homeland Security memos obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

From October 2022 to this month, the U.S.-Canadian border has seen a flood of illegal aliens, putting strain on law enforcement resources already overwhelmed down south. The memos obtained by the Free Beacon detail that law enforcement has apprehended more than 3,200 illegal immigrants who entered the United States from Canada outside of ports of entry in the 2023 fiscal year, which began in October—more than any previous year on record.

Customs and Border Protection recorded 2,238 migrant encounters on the U.S.-Canadian border in all of fiscal year 2022 and 916 the previous year. Every month of the 2023 fiscal year has been record-breaking for northern illegal border entries and there is no sign of the pace slowing any time soon.

The White House earlier this month directed two dozen CBP staff, some of whom were stationed at the southern border, to stations near the Canadian border. The move was described by the agency as a response to migrants traveling first to Canada from Mexico in order to more easily illegally cross into the United States.

"The situation at the southern border has spilled across all borders," a senior DHS official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said. "Law enforcement is already dealing with increased traffic at sea and the northern border has been slowly percolating as an area for drug traffickers and criminal groups to exploit. Prioritizing processing over enforcement has led to DHS diverting resources at our northern border to handle historic numbers in the south, and bad actors are only too happy to take advantage of us with our pants down."

Both the DHS memos and publicly available data show the most vulnerable section of the northern border is the Swanton Sector, which includes all of Vermont and counties in New York and New Hampshire that border Canada. DHS estimates that the Swanton Sector has seen a more than 2,000 percent increase in illegal border crossings since the beginning of the fiscal year. More than 60 percent of all illegal border crossings from Canada have been detected in that sector.

As the northern border becomes more chaotic, Border Patrol has been left scrambling. Only roughly 2,000 Border Patrol agents are stationed by the Canadian border. At any time, a Border Patrol agent who spoke on the condition of anonymity said, just 450 agents are ever on duty. Border Patrol stationed on the northern border, the agent said, do not have the resources, such as drones or fencing, like agents in Texas and Arizona.

House Republicans held a hearing Tuesday morning about security on the northern border, which featured immigration experts and the Border Patrol union president. Both Republicans and witnesses alleged that cartels and other smugglers are taking advantage of a lack of attention towards the Canada-U.S. border as immigration authorities grapple with the unprecedented flood of illegal aliens coming from Mexico.

"In addition to increases in illegal immigration, the northern border has seen a spike in drug smuggling," Rep. Mike Kelly (R., Penn.) wrote in a letter ahead of the hearing. "Excluding marijuana, drug smuggling seizure weight increased by nearly 600 percent along the northern border from fiscal year 2021 to fiscal year 2022."

Among the drugs seized by authorities last year were 14 pounds of fentanyl, which experts estimate is enough to kill over 3 million people. More than 100,000 Americans died from drug overdoses, most of which were attributable to fentanyl, in the 2021 fiscal year, according to the latest national data available.

Customs and Border Patrol did not respond to a request for comment.

Since President Joe Biden took office, authorities have logged more than 5.5 million migrant encounters at both the northern and southern border, the most in U.S. history, according to the anti-immigration group Federation for American Immigration Reform. CBP has also logged at least 1.2 million "got aways," illegal immigrants who were detected by immigration authorities but ultimately not detained, according to a January Fox News report.

Brandon Judd, president of the Border Patrol union, in his Tuesday testimony before the House called for more agency funding in order to properly secure the northern border. Judd said the roughly 2,000 agents assigned to patrol the nearly 5,500-mile U.S.-Canada land and water border is insufficient, particularly in the midst of a crisis.

"Given the 24/7 nature of our work, which is spread across three shifts per day, this leaves us with only about 450 Agents on duty at any one time," Judd said. He later added that moving agents from the southern border to the north is "absolutely unsustainable."

The White House has falsely claimed that there are at least 23,000 agents patrolling the nation's borders, a figure disputed by both staff and outside experts. Border Patrol chief Raul Ortiz said earlier this month he oversees a force of roughly 19,000 and called for funding to hire at least 3,000 more.