Extra border patrol agents have been transferred to points of the U.S.-Canada border as an influx of migrants — many from Mexico — are starting to cross into the United States from the north.
The 25 extra agents have been assigned to a busy part of the northern border, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) spokesperson said. According to NBC, some of those agents had previously been assigned to the southern border, citing a source familiar with the move.
“While the apprehension numbers are small compared to other areas with irregular migration flows, Swanton Sector apprehensions constitute a large change in this area,” the CBP spokesperson told NBC. “The deployed team will serve as a force multiplier in the region and assist to deter and disrupt human smuggling activities being conducted in the Swanton Sector area of responsibility.”
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The agents have been transferred to the Swanton Sector of the U.S.-Canada border, which includes all of Vermont and parts of New York and New Hampshire. The sector has a 203-mile land border and a 92-mile water border.
CBP encounters at the northern land border have surged in the last two years, according to the department’s data. Overall encounters in January were up nearly 100 percent over one year ago.
But the surge in the Swanton Sector has been even more severe. Encounters in this fiscal year have already blown past the last fiscal year. Agents had just 24 encounters in January 2022 — this January, there were 367.
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The surge has caught the attention of federal authorities. It comes as more migrants are choosing to fly from Mexico to Canada and then attempt to enter the U.S. from the north; statistically, authorities are less likely to turn them away in the north under the federal government’s Title 42 program.
But agents say the conditions in the north at this time of year, with frigid temperatures and winter weather, means migrants are faced with dangerous conditions when trying to enter the U.S. Swanton Sector. Patrol Chief Agent Robert Garcia said in a statement last month that it was dangerous for both migrants and patrol agents.
“As we progress deeper into winter and continue to address the ongoing pace of illicit cross-border traffic, the level of concern for the lives and welfare of our Border Patrol Agents and those we are encountering — particularly vulnerable populations — continues to climb,” Garcia said. “It cannot be stressed enough: not only is it unlawful to circumvent legal means of entry into the United States, but it is extremely dangerous, particularly in adverse weather conditions, which our Swanton Sector has in incredible abundance.”
The border patrol has roughly 21,300 agents.
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The Hill contributed to this report