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US Border agents sent to northern border to counter ‘large’ migrant increase

A U.S. Border Patrol agent calls for fellow agents on a radio in the area at Otay Mountain on June 8, 2021. (Alejandro Tamayo/The San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS)
March 15, 2023

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has sent more than two dozen additional agents to one portion of the northern border to address increased migrant crossings into the U.S.

The area experiencing increased migrant crossings is the Swanton Sector. The area includes 295 miles along the nation’s northern border with Canada.

“While the apprehension numbers are small compared to other areas with irregular migration flows, Swanton Sector apprehensions constitute a large change in this area,” a CBP spokesperson said, according to the Associated Press.

READ MORE: Red Cross giving migrants maps, instructions to cross US border

At least some of the agents reassigned to stop the migrants from Canada were previously stationed along the southern border.

“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,” the spokesperson added, according to NBC News.​

AP noted that 1,513 people illegally crossed the Swanton Sector border between Oct. 1, 2022, through Jan. 31, 2023, up from 160 during the same period the previous year. The totals remain small, however, in comparison with more than 760,000 apprehended at the southern border during the same time period.

Due to the extreme winter temperatures, many concerns exist related to the safety of agents and migrants.

READ MORE: Videos: 1,000+ migrants rush border; riot squad deployed

“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,” Swanton Sector Chief Patrol Agent Robert Garcia said in a statement last month. 

“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,” he added.

The most common nationality apprehended in the Swanton Sector is Mexican, NBC reported. A growing number of people seeking asylum from the country are buying one-way tickets to Canadian cities and then crossing into the U.S. through the northern border, as they believe they are less likely to be turned back.

The indirect migrant travel is also related to Title 42, a health policy in place that allows CBP to turn away those crossing the border due to COVID-19 concerns. The policy is less likely to be enforced at the northern border, making it an attractive alternative to some migrants who can afford the plane ticket.