The United States has seen a spike in migrants crossing into the border from Canada due to less security checkpoints compared to entering through Mexico, particularly through Ontario and Quebec into New York, Vermont and New Hampshire. 

U.S. officials have recorded 191,603 encounters with people crossing into their country through Canada last year, marking a 41% increase compared to 2022. 

The majority of migrants still use legal ports of entry, but last year over 12,2000 were apprehended at other entry points, an increase of 241% from 2022, according to the New York Times

Canada does not require travellers from Mexico to have a visa upon entry, which leads many to fly into Canada first and then enter the U.S. through an area known as the Swanton Sector.

This sector is a 475 km strip of land that runs along Ontario and Quebec and borders U.S. states New York, Vermont and New Hampshire.  

The Conservative party’s immigration critic said this is also straining Canada’s immigration system as many Mexican nationals simply make their asylum claims in Canada upon landing.

“The Liberals broke the immigration system and won’t enforce reasonable restrictions,” said MP Tom Kmiec. “We know there is an exponential increase of asylum claims by Mexico nationals since 2016 and the Liberals refuse to take action despite the fact that the Immigration Refugee Board’s official numbers show only 11% were approved as convention refugees between January and September 2023.”

Kmiec noted that Conservatives have called on the Liberals to reimpose the visa requirement for Mexican nationals to “stop this continuing abuse of our asylum system.”

U.S. Border Patrol Agents have apprehended over 3,100 people from 55 countries within the Swanton Sector since Oct. 1, 2023. 

That figure, which includes only the fourth quarter of 2023, amounts to more than the total illegal crossings for the sector over the last four fiscal years combined, from 2019-2022.

U.S. Border Patrol officials have also reduced 37 migrants along the Canadian border since October 2022. This is often due to migrants getting lost in the woods or falling into frozen water and contracting hypothermia.

Kmiec said Canada bears a lot of the blame for this.

“After eight years of Trudeau, he has broken our immigration system and spent millions of dollars through our border security agency on management consultants and corrupt insider contracts while neglecting front line security at our borders,” he said.

Last week, a special committee was held on the issue and Kmiec asked Immigration Minister Marc Miller if he held any responsibility for the growing problem by not acting sooner on the issue. He also asked Miller whether Canada would reimpose the visa requirement for Mexican travellers, though Miller said he wouldn’t answer the question “publicly.”

“Trudeau lifted common sense visa requirements which led to increased fraud and abuse in the asylum system, adding huge delays for legitimate asylum claimants. Trudeau is not worth the cost, and he is not worth the corruption and chaos,” said Kmiec. 

Over a dozen migrants, including families, a pregnant woman and children have been found frozen to death in rivers or in the forest over the past two years, while attempting to cross into the U.S. through Ontario and Quebec.