NY.- In a cabin on a dilapidated farm in the North Country, a rural area of New York, the belongings of a migrant family who quietly took shelter one night are still visible months later.
Thomas Brassard remembers his surprise when he saw the family—a husband, wife, and two children—emerge from the warehouse as he started his truck early in the morning.
They asked him in broken English if he could take them to the nearest town. He apologized, told them he couldn’t help, and then called the Border Patrol, who were quickly detained.
It has become a familiar sight in Champlain, New York, located on the Canadian border, to the point that the mayor keeps knitted hats and gloves in the trunk of his car to give to migrants he knows. the.
“The weather is so bad it can’t be saved,” said Janet McFetridge, the town’s mayor.
“The Border Patrol works hard to save people’s lives because that’s what it’s all about.”
As migrants continue to conquer the southern border in record numbers, an increasing wave is attempting an alternative route to the United States: across the less stable and wider Canadian border.
Instead of facing a difficult journey through the Darien Gap in Panama and an almost certain encounter with the Border Patrol, the migrants, from as far away as Mexico, India, and Venezuela, with the necessary resources, flew to Canada, which takes advantage of border crossings without any large walls or fences.
However, the dangerous conditions led to repeated rescues of migrants stranded in the dark forest or needing treatment for hypothermia.
At least a dozen migrants—families, children, and a pregnant mother—have died trying to cross over the past two years, and their frozen bodies have been recovered from rivers and forests.
Northern border officials recorded 191,603 encounters with people crossing into the United States in 2023, a 41 percent increase from 2022, although this is still a small number compared to more than two million people. who were detained at the southern border last year.
And while most migrants show up at official ports of entry to seek asylum, a growing number are apprehended after crossing illegally into the United States, sometimes guided by smugglers.
More than 12,200 people were arrested last year for illegally crossing from Canada, a 241 percent increase from the 3,578 arrested the previous year.
Most of them are Mexicans, who can fly to Canada without a visa and may prefer the northern border to avoid the cartels that exploit migrants in their country.
The event has transformed a 475-kilometer border area in northern New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire into a migration hot spot. About 70 percent of illegal crossings in 2023 took place in this part, known as Sector Swanton.
Robert Garcia, the chief patrol agent in charge of the Swanton Sector, said in a social media post on Friday that 3,100 people have been detained in the sector since October (more than in the last four fiscal years combined) from 55 countries. .
Clinton County, New York, a rural strip of farms and small towns south of the province of Quebec, has become one of the main crossing points for migrants heading south, worrying some residents and local officials.
“It’s a difficult thing to do for freedom,” Brassard said in a recent interview at his wife’s farm, a kilometer south of the border. He expressed remorse for reuniting the family.
“It’s really sad, because the kids thank you and stuff.”
People like Brassard are increasingly seeing migrants wandering through their fields and yards or carrying suitcases on dark streets.
After crossing from Canada, some migrants take shelter from the bitter cold inside residents’ barns and garages, sometimes unnoticed except by motion-activated deer cameras that capture them late at night.
Dale Tetreault, 57, a third-generation dairy farmer, said three migrants from Guatemala recently took shelter in one of his dairies. One of their workers, who was Latin American and spoke to them in Spanish, told him that they had just crossed over from Canada.