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Busiest northern border sector: Apprehensions total more than past 7 years combined

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Federal agents patrolling the busiest U.S. Customs and Border Protection sector at the northern border are apprehending a record number of foreign nationals illegally entering the U.S. through Canada.

In just the past nine months, since the beginning of the 2023 fiscal year on Oct. 1, border agents in the Swanton Sector have apprehended more than 4,600 people from over 67 countries, more than they have in the past seven years combined. The sector covers 295 miles along the Canada-U.S. border and includes all of Vermont, six upstate New York counties and three New Hampshire counties.

In June, Swanton Sector Border Patrol agents alone apprehended at least 676 illegal foreign nationals and reported 287 gotaways. In May, they apprehended at least 503 and reported 157 gotaways, according to preliminary data obtained by The Center Square from a Border Patrol agent.

This is after they apprehended 742 illegal foreign nationals and reported 142 gotaways in April and apprehended 816 and reported 371 gotaways in March, as previously reported by The Center Square.

Gotaways is the official CBP term for people who illegally enter the U.S. between ports of entry and intentionally seek to avoid being caught. CBP doesn’t publish gotaway data publicly. The Center Square exclusively reports on preliminary data obtained from a Border Patrol agent on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. The Biden administration has instructed agents not to talk to the media.

The preliminary data excludes Office of Field Operations data, meaning the officially reported apprehension data is always higher every month, even when excluding gotaway data.

Overall, the apprehension data is up significantly from May, when Swanton Sector Chief Patrol Agent Robert Garcia reported that apprehensions during the first seven months of fiscal 2023 were greater than the previous four fiscal years (FYs 2019-2022) combined.

Two months later, that number increased to total more than the last seven years combined, he said.

Also at the northern border, as of last month, federal agents at ports of entry apprehended more known, suspected terrorists than at the southern border by a margin of 5-1.

Because of the incredible demand being put on agents and the unprecedented volume of criminal activity, “for the first time in over a decade, we are hiring Border Patrol Agents directly to northern border stations,” Garcia said earlier this month.

New agents in the Swanton Sector are eligible for a $10,000 to $20,000 hiring bonus/incentive. Those interested can apply here.

“How do they do it?” Garcia said in a social media post of his agents. “We’re often asked how our Border Patrol agents manage the increased volume of illicit cross-border traffic – currently over 6 years of arrests (2017-2022) in under 9 months (FY 2023),” he said.

“The answers: Grit. Integrity. Vigilance. Dedication to serve. Love of Country.”

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