Northern border crisis gets worse | Eastern North Carolina Now

By Allan Stein at The Epoch Times

HIGHGATE, Vt.—At dawn or dusk, Kristy Brow used to enjoy alone time walking in the woods on her 21-acre property in Highgate, Vermont, a small rural town near the U.S.–Canada border.

Lately, however, she’s cautious—she’s worried about potential encounters with illegal immigrants along the remote logging trail.

“I don’t go out by myself anymore—especially at night,” said Mrs. Brow, who runs a dog obedience business from her home.

“It’s unsettling. You can’t feel relaxed anymore,” she said. “You want to be safe in your own house and on your property.

“It’s getting bad. Sometimes, you see them on the interstate, looking for a ride.”

Mrs. Brow and her husband are both avid hunters and have deer stands set up on their property. Their game cameras often record illegal immigrants passing through.

The illegal immigrants travel alone or in small groups, discarding unwanted belongings as they trudge further south into Vermont, headed for destinations unknown.

“We find clothes out here. We found shoes and a bicycle. We see Border Patrol out there on snow dogs following footprints,” Mrs. Brow told The Epoch Times.

Once a place of peace and solitude, she said the woods behind her house are now a shortcut for illegal immigrants.

And it’s only gotten worse since President Joe Biden took office, she said.

In fiscal year 2023, border officials encountered 189,401 illegal and inadmissible immigrants along the U.S.–Canada border, including at the ports of entry. Of those, 10,021 were caught crossing illegally between ports of entry.

In fiscal 2021, that number was 916.

Mrs. Brow’s property falls within the Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Swanton Sector, a 295-mile stretch of largely unguarded border with Canada.

Swanton Sector Chief Patrol Agent Robert Garcia wrote on social media earlier this month that border agents in his sector apprehended more illegal immigrants in fiscal year 2023 than “the prior 11 fiscal years combined.”
The Swanton Sector encompasses 24,000 square miles and includes all of Vermont and several counties in New Hampshire and New York State.

Traveling on foot in the area is especially challenging during the winter months.

Border officials have encountered illegal immigrants marching across miles of snow-covered wilderness, swamps, muddy fields, and meadows in sub-freezing temperatures.

Many succumb to the elements.

This month, eight illegal immigrants from Albania and India died while trying to cross the St. Lawrence River in New York State.

In February, a Mexican man traveling in a group near Holland, Vermont, collapsed and died after crossing illegally into the United States.

“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,” Mr. Garcia said in a statement.

Border officials often use snowmobiles and tracked all-terrain vehicles to pursue illegal immigrants.

“Despite sub-freezing temperatures, Swanton Sector continues encountering family groups with young children, including infants, illegally crossing from Canada into the U.S.,” according to the CBP website.

A woman who lives in New Hampshire told The Epoch Times an illegal immigrant swam across Wallace Pond in Canaan, arriving soaking wet on her neighbor’s doorstep asking for help.

In a separate incident, Mrs. Brow recalled her neighbor returning home one afternoon to find an illegal immigrant sitting on her front steps.

“He wanted to charge his phone at her house,” Mrs. Brow said.

While the neighbor allowed the man to charge his cellphone outside the house, she also called Border Patrol, who came and arrested him.

In yet another incident, a neighbor informed Mrs. Brow that three illegal immigrants were on her property.

“They just walked down my driveway and turned around and came back onto my property,” Mrs. Brow said. “The way I see it, if you have nothing to hide, you do things legally.”

Border Patrol agents apprehended 6,925 illegal immigrants from 79 different countries in fiscal 2023, Mr. Garcia wrote on X, an “astonishing 550-percent increase compared to last year.”

And during the first four months of fiscal year 2024, apprehensions have already doubled the same period in fiscal 2023, he wrote.

Last month, “a citizen’s report in Champlain, NY, led to the arrest of 10 Bangladesh citizens,” Mr. Garcia wrote.

Mr. Garcia highlighted the arrest of a Mexican national who had crossed illegally into the United States. The man was arrested in September 2023 in North Troy, Vermont.

“He was in possession of drugs, ammunition, and multiple weapons. He was sentenced to 10 months for unlawful possession of a firearm,” Mr. Garcia wrote on X.

Swanton Sector Local 2266, the union that represents border agents working in the sector, didn’t respond to a request from The Epoch Times seeking comment for this story.

“We are also seeing a lot of movement at the Canada–U.S. border,” said Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sgt. Charles Poirer, Division C communications officer in Quebec.

“The trend of ’southbound' crossing (illegal crossings from Canada to the U.S.) is growing. Our patrol officers are intercepting a lot of migrants almost every day and every night along the border,” he told The Epoch Times.

Although Canadian law enforcement “can only speculate at the motives of those individuals,” it appears a “sizable proportion” is using Canada as a stepping stone to gain entry to the United States, Mr. Poirier said.

“They land at one of Canada’s international airports (Montreal or Toronto), and within a few hours of their arrival, we intercept them at the border.”

The RCMP recently launched a number of investigations into human smuggling operations, several of which resulted in criminal charges in Canada, he said.

‘It’s Frustrating’

Matt, an employee at the Derby Four Seasons Motel in Derby, Vermont, said that illegal immigrants come expecting rides and other assistance from the locals after Border Patrol drops them off in town.

From that point on, the illegal immigrants are on their own, he said.

“We’re so sick of it. It’s frustrating. It’s the [language] barrier. They can’t speak English. That’s where the barriers take so much out of us.

“They’re coming from everywhere,” Matt told The Epoch Times. “They’re trying to go to New York. They say they have no money, but somebody comes up with the money. Their shoes are high-end. We had a family with a baby with a $300 baby crib. They have money somewhere.”

Matt said the illegal immigrants usually walk into the motel lobby in the cold morning hours to warm themselves or wait for transportation.

“They always have the phone in your face, trying to translate. Oh, I get so mad. I can’t handle that,” Matt said.

“The problem is they expect from us. They expect from the taxpayers. We’re all struggling. They expect us to go out of our way and give them free rides. Some of them thought we offered free rides here.

“It’s not our job to babysit them. That’s how we feel here—we have to babysit them a lot.”‘

Abdication of Duty’

In North Dakota, 1,600 miles west of the Swanton Sector, Gov. Doug Burgum said he’s concerned about the worsening northern border problem under the Biden administration.

The governor said he made several visits to the southern border with Mexico, where illegal immigrants continue to arrive by the thousands every day.

“It’s obviously severe on the southern border. We’ve been sending North Dakota National Guard troops down there for years,” Mr. Burgum told The Epoch Times.

“I’ve been down there more times than President Biden. I was down there two weeks ago.”

Mr. Burgum views uncontrolled illegal immigration as a national security crisis. He brought up the unprecedented number of Chinese nationals crossing illegally. In the past four months, border officials have apprehended nearly 30,000 Chinese nationals at U.S. borders—4,200 of them at the northern border.

“On the northern border, the numbers are way up,” Mr. Burgum said.

He cited one incident involving 19 Romanians trying to cross into North Dakota from Canada in vehicles that became stuck in the snow.

The illegal immigrants got out of the vehicles and began walking along the highway.

“We could have easily had someone frozen to death,” Mr. Burgum said. Mr Burgum made a short run for the GOP presidential nomination, but exited the race in December 2023 and endorsed former President Donald Trump a month later.

“This has been an abdication of duty by President Biden not to secure our borders,” he said.

“It makes no sense to me. It’s making the nation less secure. This is not about immigration anymore. This is about national security and public safety if you look at the crime that’s occurring. It’s not about Arizona and Texas, California, and New Mexico issues. Nobody knows where the federal government is sending these people.”

A ‘Big Issue’

In Champlain, New York, residents have observed illegal immigrants walking or waiting for taxis after crossing over near the port of entry on Roxham Road in Canada, which was closed down in March 2023.

In Rouses Point, New York, within the Swanton Sector, one restaurant owner told The Epoch Times the northern border has reached “scary” proportions with illegal immigration.

“The [illegal immigrants] are coming across the border, and people have been seeing them in their windows,” she said. “It’s happening every day.”

“It’s not just families coming over. They’re saying it’s young men. That makes it even more scary. It’s one thing bringing your family and your kids over.”

Other residents in the Swanton Sector told The Epoch Times that many illegal immigrants seek to relocate in metropolitan areas like Boston and New York City, which are top destinations.

However, some have opted to settle in small rural towns in search of work and housing.

In the small sanctuary city of St. Albans, Vermont (population 6,877), a downtown street banner reads: “All Are Welcome Here.”

But in the border town of Pittsburg, New Hampshire, First Lake General Store employee Stephen Tenney said illegal immigration is a “big issue.”

“Some [illegal immigrants] come through with cars. Most of them just walk through the woods trying to get in,” he said. “There’s only one road in and one road out. You’re looking at it—Route 3. If they come through the woods, they go up the back all the way to the border.”

“It’s horrible. I don’t like it,” Mr. Tenney told The Epoch Times and added that people feel “less safe.”

“But everybody up here carries [firearms]—so.”

He said he’s heard most illegal immigrants traveling through Pittsburg have been “military age” men—“no women and children.”

“You walk 3,000 miles, and you look like you just came out of the mall with a phone, clean clothes, and you don’t have a bag.

“I have a real issue with this administration,” Mr. Tenney said. “This administration is not doing anything. This administration has been [about] an open border—just come on in.

“That’s just wrong.”

Shelter Space

On Jan. 31, a temporary overflow shelter for 350 illegal immigrants opened at the Melnea A. Cass Recreation Center and Swimming Pool in Roxbury, Massachusetts, a state-run facility.

At a facility walk-through held on the same day, Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey, a Democrat, said during a videotaped press conference, “We’re here today because we really don’t have a choice.”

“As you know, families continue to come into this country—continue to come into Massachusetts,” the governor said. “We have, over the last several months, opened locations throughout the state, including large overflow sites around the state.

“We’re also in about 90 communities, utilizing our emergency shelter assistance program. Right now, we have about 7,500 families in Massachusetts housed through that program.”

She said many facilities have since reached capacity as the state manages a waiting list for new arrivals. Help to find work and shelter outside of the shelter system, meanwhile, is “a work in progress,” Ms. Healey said.

“In the meantime, we’re here because we need to find a place for people to go safely.”

She said that “under the law,” Massachusetts has an “obligation” to ensure complete use of all spaces around the state for housing illegal immigrants.

Ms. Healey has called on Congress and the Biden administration to provide resources to meet the influx of new arrivals.

“In the meantime, we cannot wait. We’ve worked hard to get work authorizations for nearly 3,000 individuals who’ve come to Massachusetts,” the governor said. “We have a program designed to plug them in with employers who need the workforce.

“As we do this work, we are going to do so using local vendors and service providers. Food. Laundry. Transportation. Case management. … We are going to show how this is going to be done well.”

Ms. Healey said the site needs to be reverted back to the community before June.

At the press briefing Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, a Democrat, said the city is working quickly to integrate illegal immigrant children into the education system.

“This is all a matter of logistics. We are eager to figure this out. I am the daughter of immigrants. So many of my top leadership team are the children of immigrants,” she said.

However, several longtime Roxbury residents were less supportive of the recreation center’s transformation into a temporary shelter.

Ray, who didn’t want his last name used, said the United States is already beset with problems taking care of its citizens.

And the recreation center is “already crowded as it is.”

“We have a problem with trained lifeguards. It’s a real problem,” Ray told The Epoch Times. “At some point, you’re going to have overcrowding. People born and raised here, they don’t get the help they need.”

Ray said the way he sees it, the United States continues to suffer with problems of homelessness, poverty, and drug abuse.

“I understand you have to be diplomatic, and it’s the United States,” he said, “[but] how about taking care of your people? People in general. Take care of your home first.”

“To flee here, I understand. At the same time, take care of your own.”

Ronald Cribb, 68, said he welcomes the new arrivals and the job skills and work ethic that they bring.

“There’s a lot of jobs here. No American wants them because it’s $10 [an hour]. Don’t complain because they’re here. Don’t complain that they took the jobs. You didn’t want the jobs,” Mr. Cribb said.

“They want to work. There’s a lot of jobs out here. Anybody can come here. It’s called the United States.”

In the Swanton Sector, residents consider illegal immigration to be a growing problem that begs for a solution.

Mrs. Brow sighs at the lack of action or resolve she sees at the federal level.

“I‘d say it, but I don’t know if I’m allowed to. I think they need to be more strict with the border again,” she said. “I’ll put it that way. They need to do things legally.”

“Something has to change. It’s not fair to the people making lives in the area, and we’ve got to be so cautious now.”

Given the uncertainties of illegal immigration so close to home, Mrs. Brow said she feels safer now carrying pepper spray and a firearm out on her property.

“You just never know,” she said. “It wasn’t like this before.”

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( March 17th, 2024 @ 9:58 am )
We need to take away the enticements, the so-called "pull factor" - the welfare, housing, food, medical care, jobs, etc. We also need to increase the penalties for illegal crossing the border. Incarceration is expensive to taxpayers, so one solution might be to use a punishment that was common in 19th century navies - flogging them with a cat-o-nine, which would be cheap but something they would wish to avoid.

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