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Illegal U.S. Northern Border Crossings Up 142 Percent From Last Year
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Illegal U.S. Northern Border Crossings Up 142 Percent From Last Year

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flickr.com/Patrick Warner

Entering the United States illegally is not just an issue along the southern border — it is increasingly becoming a problem along the northern border as well.

Border Patrol Agents along the southern border captured more than 300,000 people last year who were in the country illegally compared to 3,027 along the northern border. However, this difference is slowly shrinking. The number of people trying to cross through the northern border is increasing.

In the first half of the last year, the number of people apprehended trying to cross illegally was 184, this year for the same first six months it has risen to 445, a spike of over 140 percent.

To facilitate trade and cross-border relationships, crossing the northern border was intentionally kept simple and easy. And this effort has till now proved profitable. More than 400,000 people and about 1.6 billion worth of goods cross the border daily legally.

But times are changing now, unfortunately maintaining ease of crossing and securing the country from those trying to enter illegally is now becoming an uphill task.

"It's a tough challenge to go ahead and take the limited resources we have and work in such a vast area," Norm Lague, a Border Patrol agent lamented, adding that it is humanly impossible to cover the entire 5,525-mile-long northern border, the longest and busiest land boundary in the world. 

"The northern border is much more vast," said Lague. "The terrain is very difficult to work in, and we do not have the resources at our disposal that the southern border has," said Lague.

Worryingly, of those apprehended along the northern border last year, nearly half (1,489) were from Mexico. As we all probably know, Mexicans don't need a visa to enter Canada, and a one-way flight to Toronto or Montreal cost only about $300. Once inside Canada, Border Patrol agents say, they can easily slip into the U.S. 

An unguarded metal fence is the only thing stopping motivated smugglers and unscrupulous elements from entering New York State.

There are many buildings and business that literally straddle, with parts in the US and parts in Canada. At Derby Line, Vermont, a row of flower pots marks border, which actually cuts right through the Haskell Free Library and Opera House.

Many official ports of entry are unmanned at night with Border Patrol agents relying on local residents, patrols, and sensors to alert them of possible crossings. 

Although thousands of sensors are deployed along the border and incorporate cutting-edge motion detectors and cameras, the real challenge is to get a border patrol agent there in time to nab the offender.

There are places where entering the U.S. is as simple as taking a stroll across a 20-foot wide clearing in the woods, or paddling across a lake. There are no checkpoints at most places.

"It's generally agreed that the northern border is more vulnerable to a terrorist sneaking into this country," Peter Fox, an expert on illegal immigration said. "The only known terrorists to be apprehended coming overland into America came from the North.

"This border was created in a different time. It was created as the world's friendliest border between two countries."

He said that seven million American jobs depend on the cross-border business. "There's a lot at stake up here in the North," Fox said. 

The news regarding the uptick in illegal crossings at the northern border comes as President Trump advocates for the U.S. to implement a more hardline approach to immigration. We cannot blame him for his approach, as the president of the US, his first and foremost duty is to protect the country. For those who oppose his stance, think over the fact that if a seemingly friendly neighbor brought candies for your kids, but also stole jewelry from your home, what would you do? Would you let him come or would you lock the doors?

Author: Pradeep Banerjee