On the snowy border between New York and Canada, the local sheriff’s office is asking the US Border Patrol to put more staff behind what locals call a growing crisis: the number of illegal border crossings in the area. in the last five months it is almost 10 times more than in the same period last year, and those who cross the border are in danger of freezing to death.

From October 1 to February 28, about 2,000 migrants crossed the border between Canada and New Hampshire, Vermont and New York south through the forests, compared to just 200 crossings in the same period the previous year.

The immigrants are primarily from Mexico and may travel to Canada without a visa before crossing into the US illegally, often to join their families.

Last weekend, Clinton County, New York Sheriff David Favro’s team helped Border Patrol rescue 39 migrants, some whose clothing had frozen to their bodies.

A US Border Patrol agent apprehends seven Mexican nationals near Mooers, New York, who crossed illegally into the US from Canada on March 7.US Border Patrol Swanton Sector

“We’re seeing more and more people, and it can be deadly terrain if you’re not familiar with it,” Favro said.

He said responding to bailouts like that has strained his department’s resources, which were already strained to cover residents of his rural county of 80,000, which shares about 30 miles of border with the Canadian province of Quebec.

“The only way to really cover and protect [the northern border] it’s the boots on the ground,» Favro said.

Last week, Customs and Border Protection added 25 agents to the area, the Swanton Sector, to deter migration. But Favro and other locals who spoke to NBC News in Mooers, New York, said that’s not enough.

Mooers Fire Chief Todd Gumlaw said he recently helped rescue two Mexican women trapped in a frozen swamp in the middle of the night. Gumlaw, along with Border Patrol, local police and EMS workers, was able to provide first aid and get the women to a hospital for treatment for frostbite and mild hypothermia after they lost their shoes in the swamp, he said.

Locals and the US Border Patrol in Mooers, New York, use human snow tracks, seen here on March 13, 2023, to determine if migrants had recently crossed the area.
Locals and the US Border Patrol in Mooers, New York, use human snow tracks, photographed Monday, to determine if migrants had recently crossed the area.nbc news

“The preservation of human life is first and foremost for my department. We put [immigration status] in the back of our minds,” Gumlaw said.

The Mooers/Champlain region is a cluster of small residences and blue-collar farms, where, according to the locals, «everybody knows everybody» and properties can be several blocks apart, adding a sense of unease among some of the locals witnessing the mass migration. in the region.

According to local first responders, migrants heading south often seek shelter in sheds and empty barns to keep out the cold.

April Barcomb, a Mooers resident, said she has had immigrants on her doorstep and is now saving up for security cameras.

“It’s not something I would normally do,” he said. “But he makes me think twice. And with the kids and the family, I have to set up cameras.”

While most of the locals who spoke to NBC News said they understood that most migrants crossing the region are not threats, neighbors are on the lookout for unusual activity.

“People are scared,” said a Champlain County resident. “It is the fear of the unknown. they are [neighbors] worried about their safety, because they don’t know these people”.

Most of the migrants are Mexicans, who are often prevented from crossing the southern US border and believe it will be easier for them to fly to Canada and then cross into the US from the north.

According to a CBP spokesperson, the Swanton Sector has been the site of more than 67% of all migrant crossings on the northern border across the eight sectors as of February.

Unlike the southern border, where more than 16,000 Border Patrol agents are responsible for staffing some 2,000 miles, some 2,000 border agents patrol the 5,000-mile US-Canada border, which includes the borders. Alaska land borders, making it the longest international land border in the world.

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, a Republican, called in a letter Tuesday to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to step up enforcement along his state’s 51-mile border with Canada or allow his police forces to have more authority to do so.

“For the past few months, the state of New Hampshire has tried to help the federal government protect our northern border. These offers of assistance have been repeatedly rejected. The Biden administration has cut funding and hampered the state’s ability to help patrol the northern border,» Sununu said.

A CBP spokesperson said the additional officers just dispatched to Swanton Sector will help deter migration.