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Sunday, August 18, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Statistics show illegal northern border crossings climbing, including Spokane sector

UPDATED: Tue., March 12, 2019, 9:21 p.m.

By Wilson Ring Associated Press

MONTPELIER, Vt. – The number of people apprehended along the U.S. border with Canada is continuing to climb, according to newly released statistics from U.S. Customs and Border Protection which shows a 42 percent increase. The Spokane sector’s statistics are even more pronounced: Illegal crossings increased 66 percent from 2017 to 2018.

Statistics from the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30 show that 4,316 people were apprehended near the more-than-5,500-mile border last year, up from 3,027 in 2017 and 2,283 in 2016. In the Spokane sector – which accounts for 308 miles of the northern border – illegal crossings increased from 208 to 347 from 2017 to 2018. Of those 347 people, 282 of them were from Mexico.

The Spokane sector hasn’t seen numbers that high in almost a decade; there were 356 illegal crossings in 2010. There was a major drop in illegal crossings in the Spokane sector from 2004 (847) to 2005 (279), a trend reflected in the northern border as a whole, but to a lesser extent with only a 35 percent decrease. Security at the northern border increased in late 2004, including fingerprinting all foreign visitors.

Of the 2018 total, 963 or about 22 percent, were apprehended after illegally crossing the border from Canada. The figure is a subset of the larger number, which also includes people apprehended by border agents inside the United States and near the Canadian border and who authorities were unaware of how they entered the country.

The northern border numbers are tiny compared to the southern border where just under 400,000 individuals were apprehended in fiscal 2018.

The Border Patrol sector that includes much of upstate New York, Vermont and New Hampshire accounted for more than half of the people along the entire border who entered illegally from Canada. In the 2018 fiscal year, 548 people were apprehended along the nearly 300-mile stretch of border known to the Border Patrol as the Swanton sector. That figure is more than three times higher than the 165 people apprehended in 2017, which was slightly lower than the 214 people picked up in 2016.

Border agents have said that in some cases, sophisticated smuggling rings will bring people across the border and hand the crossers off to people sent to meet them. In others, documents show people will walk across the border from Quebec into the United States and then call a taxi to be taken further south.

In a recent case outlined in federal court documents filed on Monday in the Northern District of New York, Border Patrol agents arrested four people in a van Sunday in Bangor, New York, just south of the Canadian border. Three Mexican citizens told agents they flew into Canada in mid-February, said they had just crossed the border into the United States and were going to pay the driver of the van differing amounts to be taken further into the country.

The three Mexican citizens were charged with being in the country illegally. The driver was charged with transporting people who were in the country illegally. All four are currently being detained.

Spokesman-Review reporter Megan Rowe contributed to this report.

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