Surge of Illegal Traffic Across Northern Border Examined by House Committee
FAIR Take | April 2023
On Wednesday of last week, the House Committee on Homeland Security held a hearing entitled, “Biden’s Growing Border Crisis: Death, Drugs, and Disorder on the Northern Border.” The hearing included witnesses from the National Border Patrol Council, the Commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Safety, the Center for Immigration Studies, and the Future Borders Coalition.
Congressman Bishop (R-N.C.), the Chair of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Accountability, talked about recent events and tragedies along the northern border. He highlighted that, since March 10 of this year, the Swanton Sector alone saw 28 children under the age of 14 crossing the border in cold and snowy conditions. He told a heartbreaking story of a family of four – including two young children – that froze to death after being abandoned by a smuggler last year. He also discussed the disturbing increase in the number of individuals apprehended at the northern border that are listed in the Terrorist Screening Data Set – 176 at ports of entry so far in fiscal year 2023.
Congressman Ivey (D-Md.) responded with concern that the Republicans were manufacturing a northern border crisis. He said, “[t]he facts do not support the Republican claim that the northern border is a ‘source of death, drugs and disorder’.”
Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), co-chair of the Northern Border Caucus and a member of the Northern Border Security Caucus, noted that there has been an 846% increase in the number of crossings in the Swanton Sector, before confirming with the Commissioner for the New Hampshire Department of Safety that we do not have operational control of the border.
The hearing also highlighted the critical lack of border resources at our border. According to CBP, there are just 2,000 border patrol agents to cover the entire northern border, which means only about 450 agents can be on duty at any one time. For reference, the northern border makes up more than 3,145 miles, compared to the approximately 1,950 miles at the southern border.
President Biden’s 2024 budget proposal includes funding to hire an additional 300 border patrol officers, although it’s not clear that any of them will go to the northern border given the unprecedented crisis on the southern border. However, according to Border Patrol Assistant Chief Juan Garcia, the northern border continues to see dramatic increases in the number of illegal border crossers due primarily to “Mexican migrants with no legal documents.”
As noted in previous FAIR analysis, the Biden Administration’s fiscal year 2024 budget proposal cuts funding for the Department of Homeland Security by one percent, including cuts to border security, immigration enforcement, and detention beds.
The full hearing can be viewed here and a summary from the Committee’s leadership can be reviewed here.