NewsNation conducted an exclusive ride-along with Border Patrol, covering parts of the Swanton sector, revealing areas where border agents are grappling with overwhelming numbers of illegal crossings.
Darren Elwell, chief steward of the National Border Patrol Council’s local chapter in Newport, Vermont, said that the past year has seen an unprecedented surge in illegal crossings, particularly during frigid winter months.
“Hypothermia and frostbite are a major concern for the people that are crossing this area,” Elwell said.
The senior senator from New Hampshire, Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, wrote a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, emphasizing the need for immediate action.
“Given the unique challenges on the Northern border and the sudden increase in encounters this year, attention to the specific needs of this sector is urgently needed. …New Hampshire needs accurate information about what is happening within its borders to ensure border security and law enforcement needs are being met,” she wrote.
The statistics paint a stark picture, with the northern border witnessing a staggering 550% increase in apprehensions during the 2023 fiscal year, surpassing the numbers of the past decade combined.
While the Biden administration claims to prioritize border security, Darren Elwell disagrees, arguing that the immigration system was working and has now broken due to a lack of enforcement.
“I understand that everyone likes to say that we have a broken immigration system. Well, the immigration system was working and now it is broken. If someone wanted to change it, they should have changed it first before they just abandoned enforcement of the current laws,” Elwell said.
Elwell, who has a unique perspective having worked on both the southern and northern fronts, emphasized the extreme challenges faced by agents, from the extreme cold in the north to the extreme heat in the south.
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are taking notice of the challenges faced by northern border agents, with Rep. Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania stressing the need for increased oversight.
“There’s a lot more to the borders of the United States than just the southwestern border. We also have a northern border. We have big borders, but we’ve always kind of trusted that there’s going to be oversight. The thing we’re finding out now is there is really not as much oversight as we need,” Kelly said.
Border agents are now also focusing on apprehending individuals on terror watch lists, especially as the conflict in Israel continues to displace foreign nationals.
Although no one on a terror watch list has been caught yet, notifications from Canada are received whenever such individuals are present in the northern neighbor.