While the public focuses on illegal immigration at the southern U.S. border, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents are encountering a record number of illegal entrants at the northern border with Canada. That includes some on the terrorist watchlist, sparking outcry from congressional Republicans and local officials after more than 150,000 migrants have attempted to enter the U.S. through its northern border so far this fiscal year.
The number of immigrants who have entered the U.S. northern border so far this fiscal year, which spans from October 2022 through September 2023, is more than 4.6 times higher than the number that entered in fiscal year 2020, former President Donald Trump’s last full year in office, according to the latest U.S. government data available.
Additionally, agents recorded 375 encounters at the northern border with people on the Terrorist Screening Dataset, also known as the terrorist watchlist, so far in 2023. The southern border, which saw significantly more immigrant encounters overall, has seen 216 watchlist encounters so far this year.
Nearly half of all 2023 northern encounters occurred on New York’s border, despite the fact that the state only makes up about 8% of the U.S. land border with Canada.
Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., the No. 3 House Republican, last week blamed President Joe Biden and New York Democrat Gov. Kathy Hochul for the crisis.
“Joe Biden’s Far Left open border policies have caused our Northern Border to see an unprecedented and historic surge in illegal immigration and Kathy Hochul’s ‘Sanctuary State’ policies have further incentivized this dangerous surge,” Stefanik said. “Enough is enough.”
Meanwhile, Canada says it is “experiencing an influx of individuals crossing the Canada-United States border between ports of entry,” known as “irregular border crossings.”
So far this U.S. fiscal year, Canadian officials have recorded 30,326 irregular border crossings. This is 3.7 times more irregular crossings than Canada saw at this point during fiscal year 2022.
The U.S. and Canada have been attempting to tackle this increase in crossings by reaching a deal in March stating that asylum seekers without U.S. or Canadian citizenship who are caught within 14 days of crossing would be able to be sent back in either direction across the border.
The State Department’s latest counterterrorism report for Mexico, which is from 2021, states: “The U.S. southern border remains vulnerable to terrorist transit, but to date there have been no confirmed cases of a successful terrorist attack on U.S. soil by a terrorist who gained entry to the United States through Mexico.”
The State Department’s report for Canada states that the country’s “National Terrorism Threat Level remained at ‘Medium’ through 2021, meaning a violent act of terrorism could occur.” The report did not comment on terrorists gaining entry to the U.S. through Canada.
The Department of Homeland Security, however, warned in May: “Potential terror threats are primarily from homegrown violent extremists in Canada who are not included in the U.S. Government’s consolidated terrorist watch list and could therefore enter the United States legally at Northern Border ports of entry (POEs) without suspicion.”