Illegal crossings into the U.S. from Canada have climbed to historically high levels, although they are still a fraction of the crossings into the U.S. from Mexico.
At the Swanton Sector of the U.S. border, which covers New Hampshire, Vermont and part of northern New York, illegal border crossings increased by a factor of 10 during a recent five-month stretch compared to the same period last year, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data.
From Oct. 1 to Feb. 28, about 2,000 migrants were apprehended crossing the border illegally in the sector, compared to just 200 in the same period the previous year.
Mexicans desperate to get into the U.S. have been flying to Canada to try to cross the border in frigid temperatures, NBC News has reported. The U.S. has started flying migrants apprehended at the northern border south to Texas, and this month CBP transferred 25 extra agents to the northern border.
The U.S. and Canada are also poised to apply terms of an existing “safe third country agreement” to asylum-seekers who cross between ports of entry, the U.S. official said Thursday.
That agreement means people have to apply for asylum in the first safe countries they arrive at, with exceptions — as opposed to going to Canada and then the U.S., or vice versa.
Asked to comment on the expected agreement, a spokesperson for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said the U.S. and Canada “are engaged on all aspects of irregular migration, including the Safe Third Country Agreement.”
“We will continue to work with the U.S. on this and other areas of border cooperation,” the spokesperson said.
Biden this week is making his first presidential visit to Canada, where Trudeau has offered to help the Biden administration in stanching the flow of migrants entering Canada from the U.S. and claiming asylum.
The number of people claiming asylum after having crossed the border from the U.S. at unofficial crossings has been rising since 2017, the CBC has reported.
Phil Helsel and Didi Martinez contributed.