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U.S. Republicans are now warning: Migration from Canada is a problem –



A group of Republican lawmakers say it’s time to protect the border. No, not that border. The other one, north of the United States. The one many Americans forget. 

Their focus: the frontier with Canada. 

That northern border usually is an afterthought in American politics, comfortably ensconced on the back burner of the country’s searing debates about the Mexican border. 


More than two dozen Republicans have a mission to change that, and they held a news conference outside the Capitol on Tuesday. 

They announced the creation of a new northern border security caucus, aimed at flagging concerns about the perennially disregarded frontier with Canada.

Its creation comes as part of a reality check about American political attitudes. 

Canadians are well aware of the surge in northbound migration, with people crossing into Canada from Roxham Road in Quebec, spurring Ottawa to plead for a new migration pact with the U.S.

What’s gotten less attention is the exponential surge in migration going the other way.

These American politicians want more people to realize there’s a historic increase from Canada involving foreign migrants entering the U.S., and even Canadians with criminal records trying to sneak in undetected.

One speaker after another acknowledged that the scale of this challenge is minuscule compared to the border with Mexico, but said it’s time to pay attention. 

The group’s wish list is still ill-defined, but what they clearly want is more monitoring technology, and more agents, which means more jobs in their border districts. 

Migrants seen carrying suitcases in the snow.
Migration into Canada via Quebec’s Roxham Road, seen here, is a major political issue in Canada. Politicians in Ottawa and Quebec are keen to renegotiate the Safe Third Country pact with Washington, so that the U.S. takes back migrants who enter Canada at irregular entry points like such as this one. (Christinne Muschi/Reuters)

‘We are being assaulted’

“We are being assaulted because we don’t have a border,” said Ryan Zinke, a congressman from Montana who served briefly in Trump’s cabinet. 

“This is a national security problem and the northern tier has their own set of challenges.” 

Tuesday’s events shed light on challenges on all sides: for this particular group of politicians, for the U.S. and for Canada. 

The limited interest in Canadian migration was evident inside and outside the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday.

Not a single American reporter showed up to ask any questions at the outdoor press conference.

The only questions were from Canadian journalists, and they were about things like about how the countries could co-operate on migration.

That’s not what some of the politicians came to talk about.

After a few such queries, the most senior politician there, the No. 3 House Republican, Elise Stefanik, interjected to urge a focus on what truly matters here: There’s a border crisis, and it’s President Joe Biden’s fault. 

It was a similar theme inside the Capitol on Tuesday at the first hearing of the new Republican majority in the House homeland security committee. 

The hearing was about the consequences on states across the country of lax borders, with migrants and drugs spilling into every state.

At this border hearing, Canada wasn’t even an afterthought. 

This was made clear when a witness from Michigan shared a heart-wrenching story about her two sons being killed by fentanyl-laced pills.

The committee chairman, Mark Green, pointed out: “You’re in Michigan. … Quite a ways from the border.” 

In fact, the witness, Rebecca Kiessling, a conservative activist, lives in Rochester Hills, Mich., a 40-minute drive from Canada in moderate Detroit traffic.

That’s because in U.S. political parlance, “the” border is almost always the one approximately 24 hours of drive time south of Kiessling’s home, to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.

This group of northern conservatives wants to change that. Fox News and other U.S. outlets  have, in fact, written about the massive migration surge from Canada.

The increase is real.

The recent trend

Statistics from U.S. Customs and Border Protection show exponential growth in migration from Canada, with more than 55,000 encounters in the first four months of this fiscal year — almost eight times the 2021 rate.

These encounters can include anything from an arrest to an asylum claim, and they’ve disproportionately involved citizens of India, Mexico and Canada.

At the recent pace, there would be almost 170,000 such encounters at the northern border this year, which, for context, is barely five per cent of the comparable number for the southern border with Mexico, which is trending toward three million encounters.

Yet these lawmakers want Americans to realize drugs like fentanyl and cocaine are also coming through Canada, albeit in smaller amounts.

A sheet of paper being held in the air, showing numbers.
The Republicans handed journalists a chart showing how few border agents are posted on the border with Canada compared to Mexico. (Alexander Panetta/CBC)

“These numbers are outrageous. And they can not go unanswered,” said Rep. Lisa McClain, a Republican from Michigan. 

“We’re here today to say, ‘We do have a problem. Let’s work together to fix it.'”

What they want is better technology for communications and detection, of the sort more frequently deployed on the southern border.

They also want more border agents. 

One Republican from Texas told a story about meeting border agents in his district who’d been redeployed — five times — from their normal posting in the north.

The lawmakers distributed stats: barely 10 per cent of U.S. border patrol agents are stationed along the Canadian frontier.

New York Republican Nick Longworthy said his part of the country has been left understaffed because border agencies are underfunded and struggling.

“Border patrol resources [are] trying to put a tourniquet on a gushing crisis at the southern border,” he said.

Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota said he’s sure Canadians are frustrated too. He said the Biden administration is allowing unlawful movement, while blocking lawful movement and trade with a continuing vaccine mandate for travel and his rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline.

There was no Canada-bashing at the event. 

Representative Elise Stefanik speaks at a desk in Congress.
Elise Stefanik is the most senior member of the group. She’s the No. 3 House Republican, and also represents a border district in upstate New York. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)

Several speakers did mention, as a factor driving the phenomenon, Canada’s more permissive policies, such as visa-free travel for Mexicans and less stringent student-visa rules.

They suggested that people who can’t get into the U.S. lawfully have an incentive to travel to Canada and try entering illegally.

One border-union official at the event referred to the tragic case involving a family of four from India last year: The father got a Canadian student visa, and the whole family subsequently froze to death while trying to walk into the U.S. from Manitoba.

What does this mean for Canada?

There’s no guarantee this political effort winds up affecting Canada.

But it’s a sign of the political pressure Biden faces at home on immigration —  as Canada asks him to accept more migrants.

The governments of Canada and Quebec are pushing for the expansion of the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement.

But the U.S. ambassador to Ottawa, in a recent interview with CBC News, refused to even acknowledge the countries are discussing this.

One Washington-based immigration expert, Theresa Cardinal Brown, told CBC News the U.S. has no political appetite to take on this issue right now.

In that same interview, however, Cardinal Brown also said that, perhaps, the spike in migration from Canada creates an incentive for the U.S. to talk.

“That may be a basis for a conversation,” said Brown, an immigration analyst at the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington think-tank.

WATCH | What’s driving migrants toward Canada:

What’s driving migrants to make a dangerous run for Canada

16 hours ago

Duration 7:03

Warning: Video contains graphic images | Violence and oppression in Central and South America are driving a surge of migrants to the U.S.-Mexico border and for many the new target in Canada. CBC’s Paul Hunter travels to Juarez, Mexico to find out more about what’s driving them to make the dangerous run north.

The U.S. hasn’t paid much attention to the northern border since the post-9/11 era, when concerns about terrorist movement dominated the Canada-U.S. conversation and led to security measures that slowed travel. 

Canadian officials and diplomats mostly like it that way. 

Then again, this gives Canada a new argument. When Biden heads to Ottawa, his Canadian counterparts might make a new pitch for a migration deal, arguing that it would help both countries control irregular entry, as they tell the president: Let’s make a deal.

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Two families found dead trying to enter US from Canada: Police – Al Jazeera English



Authorities have launched an investigation following the discovery of eight bodies in a marshy area of the St Lawrence River in Quebec near Canada’s border with the United States.

The Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service said six bodies were found about 5pm (21:00 GMT) on Thursday in the marsh in Tsi Snaihne, Akwesasne. Two more were discovered on Friday.

At a news conference on Friday, deputy police chief Lee-Ann O’Brien said the dead belonged to two families — one of Romanian descent with Canadian passports, the other Indian. One child under the age of three was among the fatalities, she said.


“All are believed to have been attempting illegal entry into the US from Canada,” O’Brien said at the press conference.

Later that day, the chief of the Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service, Shawn Dulude, said that one of the two additional bodies recovered was that of an infant from the Romanian family.

The deaths came one week after the United States and Canada announced the expansion of a border agreement granting them the authority to expel asylum seekers who cross the nations’ shared border at unofficial points of entry.

O’Brien said the bodies were found near a capsized boat belonging to a missing man from the Akwesasne Mohawk community, which stretches along both sides of the St Lawrence River, with land in Ontario and Quebec on the Canadian side, and in New York state.

Authorities were awaiting the results of post-mortem and toxicology tests to determine the cause of death.

Marco Mendicino, Canada’s minister of public safety, said the Canadian Coast Guard and the Quebec provincial police force were assisting Akwesasne police in their investigation.

[embedded content]

“The news coming out of Akwesasne is heartbreaking,” the minister wrote on Twitter. “I’ve reached out to Grand Chief Abram Benedict to express our condolences. As we await more details, my thoughts are with the loved ones of those lost.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also expressed his condolences to the families. “This is a heartbreaking situation, particularly given the young child that was among them,” he told reporters.

“We need to understand properly what happened, how this happened and do whatever we can to ensure that we’re minimising the chances of it happening again.”

Last month, the Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service and the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Police reported a recent increase in undocumented entries through their lands and waterways. The statement said some people required hospitalisation.

In January, the police force noted that people involved in human smuggling had attempted to use shorelines along the Saint Lawrence River in the area.

‘Put human lives at risk’

Trudeau unveiled the expanded border deal, known as the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA), last week during US President Joe Biden’s first official visit to Canada since taking office.

Since 2004, the STCA has forced asylum seekers to make claims for protection in the first country they arrive in — either the US or Canada, but not both.

That has meant that people already in the US could not make an asylum claim at an official port of entry into Canada, or vice versa, and allowed border authorities to uniformly turn people back at official land crossings.

The expanded agreement unveiled on March 24 closed a loophole in the STCA that previously allowed asylum seekers who crossed into Canada at unofficial points along the border to have their protection claims assessed once they were on Canadian soil.

The White House said last week that the restrictions would now also be applied “to migrants who cross between the ports of entry”.

Advocates slammed the move, saying applying the STCA to the entire 6,416km (3,987-mile) land border between the US and Canada would not prevent people from seeking to cross, but would only force them to take more dangerous routes.

Migrant justice advocates laid the blame for the most recent deaths on policymakers.

“The Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) and other immigration laws are meant to deter migration from the global south by making border crossing deadly,” Nazila Bettache, a member of the Caring for Social Justice Collective, said in a statement on Friday.

“Let’s be clear, these deaths were predictable and predicted — and in that sense they are intentional.”

Samira Jasmin, spokesperson for the Solidarity Across Borders advocacy group, added that “these immigration policies put human lives at risk! We cross borders for a better world and instead face death”.

Local authorities disputed the idea that the closure played a role in the most recent deaths.

“Right now what I can tell you is this has nothing to do with that closure,” O’Brien said. “These people were believed to be gaining entry into the US. It’s completely opposite.”

The STCA applies in both directions, however, and US Border Patrol processed 3,577 people who crossed into the US irregularly from Canada last year, CBS News recently reported, citing government data.

Earlier this year, a family of four from India — including two children — were found frozen to death in the central Canadian province of Manitoba near the border with the US.

Authorities said they had attempted to cross over the border by foot on January 19 during severe winter weather and died from exposure.

A Haitian asylum seeker who came to Quebec via a popular, informal border crossing known as Roxham Road was also found dead at the frontier in late 2022 after attempting to go back to the US to rejoin his family.

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Police recover 2 more bodies from St. Lawrence River near Ontario-Quebec border –



Eight people are dead after they tried on Thursday to cross the St. Lawrence River into the United States near Akwesasne — a community which straddles Quebec, Ontario and New York state — according to officials. One other person is still missing. 

Police recovered two more bodies from the river Friday, after discovering six bodies and an overturned boat during a missing person search Thursday afternoon. 

The bodies are those of six adults and two children: one under the age of three who had a Canadian passport, the other an infant who was also a Canadian citizen, according to Shawn Dulude, the police chief for the nearby Kanien’kehá:ka community of Akwesasne. Dulude spoke to reporters at a Friday news conference. 


They were found in a marsh on the riverbank. 

They are believed to have been an Indian family and a Romanian family who were attempting to cross into the U.S., according to police.

Casey Oakes, 30, an Akwesasne resident, remains missing, police said. Oakes was last seen on Wednesday around 9:30 p.m. ET boarding a small, light blue vessel, leaving Cornwall Island. He was dressed in black, wearing a black face mask and a black tuque.

WATCH | Dulude speaks about the victims:

Police recover two more bodies from the St. Lawrence River

5 hours ago

Duration 1:21

Shawn Dulude, the chief of the Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service, says eight bodies have now been found after an overturned boat was spotted in the water on Thursday afternoon.

He was later reported missing, leading to the search efforts that found the bodies. Oakes is a person of interest in the case, said Dulude.

Police located Oakes’s vessel near the bodies, Lee-Ann O’Brien, the deputy chief of police for the Akwesasne Mohawk police service, said on Friday morning. Akwesasne is about 120 kilometres west of Montreal.

The IDs of the victims have not yet been released, pending notification of their next of kin. 

A storm brought high winds and sleet into the area on Wednesday night. “It was not a good time to be out on the water,” O’Brien said. 

“It could have been anything that caused this tragedy,” he said. “It could have been a faulty boat, it could have been human error and that the investigation will determine.” 

A man standing outside against a winter landscape looks into the distance.
Kevin Sturge Lazore, captain of the Akwasasne Fire Department’s Station 3, sent 15 volunteer firefighters to search the river on Thursday. (Verity Stevenson/CBC)

Kevin Sturge Lazore, captain of the Akwasasne Fire Department’s Station 3, sent 15 volunteer firefighters to search the river on Thursday after Oakes’s family reported him missing. Another dozen or so volunteers from other stations in the community joined the effort.

The firefighters recovered the boat, its hull dented on the bottom as if it had hit ice or a rock, Lazore said. 

WATCH | 80 illegal crossings this year: 

Akwesasne police report 80 illegal crossings this year

5 hours ago

Duration 0:21

Akwesasne Mohawk police Chief Shawn Dulude says they have intercepted 80 attempted illegal crossings into the U.S. through their territory since January.

He and O’Brien said the boat was small, and wouldn’t have been able to safely carry seven or eight people. 

“What that boat could handle and the amount of people in it, it doesn’t make a pretty picture,” Lazore said, standing by the fire department dock on the water.

Friday morning, the water was calm and mirror-like. “It can change in the blink of an eye,” Lazore said, noting waves were more than a metre high Wednesday night. 

“The river is always the major concern…. Our elders tell us, always be careful, especially in the spring, with the runoff, the current is stronger and the water is freezing.”

Other attempted crossings

The volunteer firefighters were only searching for one person when they discovered the first six bodies.

“It’s hitting them now,” Lazore said, adding they had begun a debrief Thursday evening to process what they had seen, but were interrupted by a call for a structure fire.

Photo of bearded man with hat and sweater in front of a yellow background.
Casey Oakes, 30, was last seen boarding a small, light blue vessel, leaving Cornwall Island, according to police. (Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service)

Thursday wasn’t the first time Lazore’s team has been called on to search for missing people who have tried to cross the border.

He said they rescue people attempting to enter the U.S. or Canada over the river and its tributaries about three or four times a year.

“It gets hard. It wears the guys down.”

Almost exactly a year ago, they rescued a group of six Indian nationals who had just made it into the United States on the river when the boat they were in hit a shallow bank and got stuck.

They were able to stand up in the boat and were rescued by the volunteers and Akwasasne Police Department — which received $6.5 million from the Quebec government last year to help it deal with the increased flow of human smuggling in the area.

“They were lucky. It could have been a lot worse,” Lazore said.

WATCH | Police search waters near Akwesasne:

Police search for adult, child still missing near Akwesasne

8 hours ago

Duration 0:46

Police continued the search for two people missing on Friday after the bodies of six people were recovered from the St. Lawrence River near Akwesasne, on the Ontario, Quebec and New York borders.

The fire station is next to a recreation centre where community members gathered Friday afternoon. They sit across a road from the Tsi’Snaihne River. 

A police helicopter circled above. 

Next to the fire station, a group of men lit a sacred fire early that morning and kept it going throughout the day. Lazore said the fire was to honour the families and Oakes. 

Smuggling on the rise

O’Brien, the deputy police chief, said the community has seen an uptick in human smuggling into the U.S. There have been 48 incidents so far this year, she said.

But the recent deaths had nothing to do with the closure of the Roxham Road illegal border crossing, she added.

“That closure was people seeking refuge, leaving the U.S. to Canada. These people were believed to be gaining entry into the U.S. It’s completely the opposite.”

Most of those who try to enter the U.S. through the area are Indian and Romanian families, she said, but she said she “had no idea” why that was the case. 

Ryan Brissette, a public affairs officer with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, says the agency had seen a “massive uptick in encounters and apprehensions” at the border. 

The agency saw more than eight times as many people try to cross from Canada into the U.S. in 2022 compared to previous years, he said. Many of them — more than 64,000 — came through Quebec or Ontario into New York. 

“Comparing this area in the past, this is a significant number,” Brissette said.

“There’s a lot of different reasons as to why this is happening, why folks are coming all of a sudden through the northern border. I think a lot of them think it’s easier, an easy opportunity and they just don’t know the danger that it poses, especially in the winter months.”

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Eight bodies found in St Lawrence River near US-Canada border – BBC



Police and firemen carry a bag off their search boat from the marshland in Akwesasne, Quebec, CanadaReuters

Authorities say they have recovered the bodies of eight migrants, including two children, who died trying to cross illegally from Canada into the US.

A police helicopter spotted two more bodies in the St Lawrence River on Friday. Two families from Romania and India are among the dead.

Officials at the time were searching for a missing boater in the area, Casey Oakes, 30. He is still missing.


It is unclear if there is any link between Mr Oakes and the families.

Police said the first body was found around 17:00 local time (21:00 GMT) in a marsh in Tsi Snaihne in Akwesasne, a Mohawk territory right between the US-Canada border.

The other bodies were discovered nearby. Their identities have not yet been released by police.

The dead were six adults and two children.

One child was under the age of three and had a Canadian passport. The other infant was also a Canadian citizen, a local police chief told reporters at a Friday news conference.

The bodies are believed to be from two families, one of Romanian descent and one of Indian descent, Lee-Ann O’Brien, deputy chief of Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service, told reporters.

“All are believed to have been attempting illegal entry into the US from Canada,” Ms O’Brien said. She added that weather conditions were rough in the area on Wednesday night.

The bodies were found in the Quebec area of Akwesasne, a Mohawk community whose territory includes parts of Ontario, Quebec and New York State. It is located about 120km west of Montreal.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said: “This is a heartbreaking situation.

“We need to understand properly what happened, how it happened and do whatever we can to minimize the chances of this ever happening again.”

Bodies of people attempting to cross into the US from Canada have been discovered at other locations in recent months.

In January, police in Canada found the bodies of four people, including an infant, in a snow field near Emerson, Manitoba, by the US-Canada border. The dead are believed to be a family from India, US officials said.

A Montreal man was also found dead near the US-Canada border in December. Fritznel Richard, 44, was trying to cross into the US to reunite with his wife and child.

US border agents have noted an uptick of people crossing back from Canada.

In January, US Border Patrol apprehended 367 people attempting to cross north to south – more than the number of such crossings in the last 12 years combined.

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