Increased illegal crossings from Canada straining U.S. Border Patrol, official says during exclusive ride-along
A sharp increase in illegal crossings from Canada into the U.S. has an understaffed northern U.S. Border Patrol under new strain, staff say.
CTV National News’ Richard Madan was taken on an exclusive ride-along in Michigan Tuesday with U.S. Border Patrol, to the scene of Agent Javier Geronimo's most recent bust.
“We came out and arrested the migrant who came over from Canada on a kayak,” Geronimo told CTV National News. “About two football fields away.”
U.S.-based Homeland Security says the St. Clair River separating Michigan and Ontario is one of the many targeted areas where a record number of migrants are crossing illegally into the U.S. from Canada.
There are points where it takes less than two minutes to cross the river by boat. U.S. officials say they’ve caught more migrants here in the past four months than in all of last year.
The number of illegal crossings is up significantly, according to American officials. Homeland Security reports more than 100,000 migrant encounters from Canada last year.
That's more than triple the amount from 2020.
“This year's really way north of what we've ever seen,” Border Patrol Chief Robert Danley told CTV News. “More than 700 per cent.”
Danley blames smugglers for the increase.
He believes they are arranging flights into Canadian cities from countries, including Mexico where visas aren't required to enter Canada, with the goal of making it easier to get into the U.S.
“We're starting to see that being exploited and opening up a pipeline for people wanting to exploit Canada's hospitality,” Danley said.
He added that he's lost about a third of his staff who were deployed to the southern U.S. border.
On Capitol Hill, Republicans are blasting the Biden administration for what they see as a failure to secure both sides of the border.
“At some point, somebody has to help Customs and Border Patrol — they’re unmanned, underfunded and they're not equipped to do the job that we're asking them to do,” Rep. Mike Kelly said Tuesday at a news conference.
Congressional Republicans are demanding the White House pressure Ottawa to review its visa policies from certain countries, a sign that the shared border, long a symbol of peaceful co-operation, may now have become an unavoidable political issue.
Watch the video above to see more from the ride-along.
With files from CTVNews.ca's Alexandra Mae Jones
This story has been updated to remove references to Brazil and Romania, where travellers to Canada require, in certain circumstances, a visa to enter the country.