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U.S.-Canadian Border Faces Surge in Illegal Migrant Crossings

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The United States border with Canada is on pace to quadruple migrant encounters from the north, according to reports Wednesday. The latest news comes as the Biden administration faces crises on both the northern and southern borders, despite administration officials saying borders are secured. 

In letter to the Biden administration’s Department of Homeland Security Secretary (DHS) Alejandro Mayorkas, New York Republican lawmaker Elise Stefanik, who represents New York’s northern border with Canada, condemned the President and DHS Mayorkas for letting a massive surge of migrants and illicit drugs like fentanyl come into the country from the northeastern front, including Vermont and Maine. 

“The northern border is bigger and has less infrastructure and personnel than the southern border. Cartels and terrorist organizations adapt quickly to U.S. law enforcement. We should never take our eye off the northern border,” said Lora Ries, Director of the Border Security and Immigration Center at The Heritage Foundation.

Stefanik said the US Customs and Border Patrol agents reported around 2,238 illegal migrant encounters for the fiscal year 2022. During the four months of that year, migrant encounters rose to 2,227, surpassing last year’s total. In a letter with fellow Republican representative Nick Langworthy, Stefanik explained that “this recent influx, along with spikes in drug smuggling and lack of US Border Patrol (USBP) agent staffing, is yet another troubling example of your failure to protect and secure the homeland.”

“After a more than 800% increase in migrant encounters from 2022 to 2023 along the northern border it is no less than a guarantee that smuggling across the border, whether it be drugs or humans, is going to increase. Until actual steps are taken by President Biden and Secretary of Homeland Security Mayorkas to enforce the law and remove those who are coming illegally this trend will only continue to be more prevalent,” said Federal for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) Press Secretary Ron Kovach.

According to Kovach, “there has been too little effort in general to protect our borders. The men and women of border patrol are working as hard as they can to secure every mile of our border but current policies are forcing them to process more than patrol. Until they get the resources they need to do their jobs our border will remain open.”

“Over the last two years, southern border states have been overwhelmed with record illegal immigration, drug smuggling, and crime that has continuously poured into the local communities,” the Congresswoman said in the letter. 

“This administration has watched idly as these our states bear the brunt of disastrous and dangerous policies. Now, your refusal to address these crises has left America’s northern border communities, from Alaska to Maine, along the world’s longest international border, at the forefront of a growing threat to our national security.”

According to the Congresswoman, agents “continue to put themselves in harm’s way to keep our communities safe, and this 475 percent increase in encounters from the first four months of FY22 is both unsustainable and symptomatic of your broader failure to secure the border,” she wrote of the ongoing migrant crisis in the northern border.

“As temperatures reach sub-zero levels and USBP agents conduct life-saving search and rescue missions, you continue to insist you are managing the border in a safe, orderly, and humane manner. However, our northern border is on track to see more than 10,000 encounters in FY23 while your department continues to downplay the threat posed by a wide-open northern border,” Stefanik said. 

Not only has the U.S. border experienced an increase in illegal immigration, but the northern border has seen a spike in drug smuggling. 

According to Congresswoman Stefanik, drug smuggling seizure weight has increased by around 596% in the northern border from 2021 to 2022. 

She also notes that the seizure of stimulants like khat increased by 1,756 percent, ecstasy by 763 percent, ketamine by 663 percent, and meth drugs by 204 percent.

Stefanik explained that was even more concerning was that the “CBP seized 14 pounds of fentanyl in FY22 along the northern border, enough to kill an estimated 3.17 million people. The damage this lethal drug can do to a community has been well-documented over the years, notably across New England states. We cannot allow another avenue for fentanyl smuggling into our communities that are already inundated by the drug crisis down south.”

The Congresswoman noted that Border Patrol staffing has remained flat amid the increased illegal border crossings and drug smuggling along the border with Canada. According to the Republican lawmaker, there are around 2,019 Border Patrol agents between the 138 ports of entry along the northern states covering around 5,525 border miles, with some patrolling at the Southern border. 

“Officials from the northern Border Patrol sectors tell us they have also assumed additional work to support southern border agents explicitly, digitally processing illegal migrants who have been apprehended at the southern border,” Stefanik explained. 

The New York Congresswoman also noted a 2019 US Government Accountability Office report that Homeland Security does not have the performance measures to assess security concerns along the northern border with Canada. 

Kovach, like many other immigration experts also say that the Biden administration “needs to hold themselves accountable for the damage they’ve done. If Biden didn’t eviscerate our border security the day he took office this would not even be a conversation.”

Towards the end of her letter, the Congresswoman asked that DHS Secretary Mayorkas provide a “full account of what the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will do to mitigate the flow of illegal migrants and illicit drugs into the US across our northern border.”

“The southern border usually gets most of the attention and resources. That has certainly been true so far during the Biden administration because that is where the majority of the illegal alien encounters has occurred. Now, with a jump in encounters on the northern border, attention is turning to both borders,” Ries told the Foreign Desk.

Following the ongoing crisis in the U.S. Southern Border with Mexico, several Republican lawmakers have filed an article of impeachment against DHS Secretary Mayorkas, claiming that he has engaged in “high crime and misdemeanors” regarding his handling of the situation at the southern border. 

According to Ries, Secretary Mayorkas has “violated his oath of office, abused the powers of his office, and betrayed the trust of the American people. His misconduct is so reckless, so irresponsible, and so serious that he should be impeached, removed from office, and disqualified from holding any further office,” she said.

In states like New York, local officials are trying to serve the never-ending flow of migrants crossing into neighborhoods and cities from the southern border, with officials begging the federal government to aid in financial assistance and the growing costs of housing these migrants. 

In Republican-controlled border states like Texas, Republican legislatures are beefing up border security, providing resources to local law enforcement and border patrol agents while calling on the Biden administration to deal with the ongoing situation and not to ignore it. 

Asked what the administration needs to do to prevent the ongoing crisis, Kovach said “both borders need more agents, better surveillance, and actual detention of those who cross our borders illegally. For the northern border specifically, an MPP equivalent with Trudeau would effectively lower the amount of illegal aliens crossing our border.”

“The Biden-created crisis at the southern border has strained available resources. Additional manpower has had to be diverted to the southern border and enterprising criminal cartels have used the diminished manpower at the Canadian border, plus Canada’s own lax policies, to take advantage of new ways to get people (and possibly contraband) into the U.S,” said Kovach.

“The U.S. and Canada have the longest unguarded border in the world based on a long-standing sense of trust on both sides that we could rely on each other to act in the common interest. As such, we need to do our part to make sure that the people we admit to our country do not pose risks to Canada, and that Canada does the same and Canada needs to be more vigilant about who is arriving at their international airports and whether they should be admitted,” said Kovach.

“Customs and Border Protection asks for three things to secure the border: personnel, infrastructure, and technology. That’s true for the northern border too, just in different amounts than the southern border,” Ries said.

Related Story: Border Apprehensions of Migrants at U.S.-Canada Border on the Rise

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