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‘Domino Effect’: How The Crisis At The Southern Is Opening Up The Northern Border

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Jennie Taer Investigative Reporter
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UPDATE: This article has been updated to accurately reflect that there was a 354% increase in the number of northern border encounters. In addition, Customs and Border Protection saw a 291% increase in encounters with Mexican migrants. 

  • Illegal migrants are increasingly taking to the northern border to get into the U.S., exploiting manpower issues and lax travel requirements, according to border officials who spoke with the Daily Caller News Foundation. 
  • Border Patrol agents on the northern border are being pulled to support their colleagues on the U.S.-Mexico border to address record illegal migrant crossings while the U.S.-Canada border experiences its own crisis.
  • “This domino effect all starts on the southwest but then the effects are felt everywhere because we have to use resources to deal with what’s taking place down south and when you do that, then of course, you leave yourself wide open in other areas, and that’s what we’re seeing on the North right now,” National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd told the DCNF.

A growing number of migrants are flying into Canada and crossing the U.S. northern border illegally, avoiding expensive and treacherous journeys to the southern border, according to multiple officials who spoke with the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Authorities have encountered 96,259 migrants at the northern border between October 2021 and August 2022, which is a 354% increase from the 21,173 migrant encounters during the previous fiscal year. (RELATED: Texas Border City’s Homeless Shelters At ‘Breaking Point’ After Biden Admin Released Hundreds Of Illegal Migrants Onto The ‘Streets’)

But while the numbers have surged, manpower at the northern border has been pulled for both physical and virtual processing to support another illegal migration surge at the southern border, where migrant encounters have surpassed 2,000,000 in fiscal year 2022.

“This domino effect all starts on the southwest but then the effects are felt everywhere because we have to use resources to deal with what’s taking place down south and when you do that, then of course, you leave yourself wide open in other areas, and that’s what we’re seeing on the North right now,” National Border Patrol Council (NBPC) President Brandon Judd told the DCNF.

“Everybody thinks that the issue is just the southwest border. It’s not,” Judd said.

There’s a minimum number of northern border agents tasked with holding “virtual” processing interviews with illegal migrants at the southern border, a CBP official with knowledge of northern border operations, who was not authorized to speak publicly, told the DCNF.

“[They] are coming in to help with the southern border sectors to process faster,” the CBP official said.

CBP has deployed around 120 Border Patrol agents, mostly from the northern and coastal sectors, to the southern border, the agency said in a statement to the DCNF, adding that the number has been reduced “due to advancements in processing and resourcing” such as virtual processing, adding contractors and hiring Border Patrol Processing Coordinators.

“Virtual Processing expedites the processing of persons by outsourcing processing activities, such as data entry, to other sectors,” the agency said. “This has been successfully proven to not only be a great force multiplier that has helped meet the operational requirements, but serves to preserve operational integrity in high threat/volume areas, improving organizational processes in low threat/volume Sectors while enhancing overall efficiencies. “

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 09: A U.S. Customs and Border Protection patch on the uniform of Rodolfo Karisch, Rio Grande Valley sector chief patrol agent for the U.S. Border Patrol, as he testifies during a U.S. Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing on migration on the Southern U.S Border on April 9, 2019 in Washington, DC. During the hearing, lawmakers questioned witnesses about child mentions, minor reunification, and illegal drug seizures on the Southern Border. (Photo by Alex Edelman/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 09: A U.S. Customs and Border Protection patch on the uniform of Rodolfo Karisch, Rio Grande Valley sector chief patrol agent for the U.S. Border Patrol, as he testifies during a U.S. Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing on migration on the Southern U.S Border on April 9, 2019 in Washington, DC. During the hearing, lawmakers questioned witnesses about child mentions, minor reunification, and illegal drug seizures on the Southern Border. (Photo by Alex Edelman/Getty Images)

In fiscal year 2020, there were 2,019 Border Patrol agents assigned to the U.S.-Canada border, which is the longest shared border in the world, while 16,878 were assigned to the southern border

“These efforts have allowed for more agents to be in the field conducting critical national security and law enforcement missions both along the northern and southern borders,” CBP said.

Northern border agents tied up with processing illegal migrants both in person and virtually at the southern border are creating manpower issues that are opening the U.S.-Canadian border up to illegal migrants and smugglers, who are exploiting Canada’s lax visa requirements for many nationalities, including Central Americans, according to the anonymous CBP official.

There have been more illegal migrants from Central and South America that fly into Canada before crossing, the official told the DCNF.

“Almost all are flying from Mexico City. They are paying anywhere from $2,000 to $6,000, which is definitely cheaper and they avoid the cartel exploitation,” one border agent told the DCNF.

For Mexicans, for example, there is no visa requirement to travel to Canada, just an electronic travel authorization, which costs 7 Canadian dollars. CBP has encountered 2,676 Mexican migrants at the northern border between October 2021 and August 2022, which is about a 291% increase from fiscal year 2021’s 684 encounters.

Between Sept. 24 and 26, Border Patrol agents in Vermont and New York apprehended 53 illegal migrants from Mexico, Central America, South America and Europe. Multiple criminal and human smuggling charges resulted from the incident.

“Individuals that are able to use the ETA system are considered a less risk to the Canadian government,” Canadian immigration lawyer Stephen Green told the DCNF. “It is less onerous than applying for a temporary resident visa.”

However, the Canadian government doesn’t have exit controls and lacks data on those leaving the country, Canada’s Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship told the DCNF.

Northern border authorities historically apprehended 800 illegal migrants each year between 2012 and 2017, according to a 2017 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report.

The new surge stems from President Joe Biden’s “failed” border policies, Republican New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, who is a co-chair of the House northern border caucus, told the DCNF.

“Because of his failure to uphold our immigration laws, he has forced many hardworking border patrol agents in my district, who work to protect our Northern Border, into no-notice deployments to fight his crisis on the southern border,” Stefanik said.

“[This] leaves us with security openings on our Northern Border,” she said.

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