Illegal immigrants continue to flee Canada for perceived greener pastures in the U.S. in record numbers, according to data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
From October 2022 to the end of August, the U.S. Border Patrol apprehended 237 people who left Manitoba for North Dakota or Minnesota.
That's three times the number of illegal immigrants captured from October 2021 to September 2022 at 68.
"The first half of the year we've already surpassed all of our numbers from 2022, and we're a little over halfway through now," said David Marcus, a border agent who covers the North Dakota and Minnesota section of the U.S. border with Canada.
Marcus told the CBC that most have been approached by smugglers in an attempt to enter the U.S. for a better life. “The smugglers say they can get him here safely and that's a lie. They can't guarantee anybody's safety,” he added.
In some cases, smugglers say it is easier to enter the U.S. from Canada than Mexico, noting that most of the people captured originated from Mexico.
In other cases, Marcus told Radio Canada that smugglers misinform illegal immigrants purposely on guaranteed employment in Canada. Upon arrival by flight, they deviate from their promise and say the jobs are actually in the U.S.
Manitoba RCMP spokesperson Tara Seel said the number of illegal border crossings northbound are down from 2022.
“The flow seems to go more heavily towards the south,” she said, adding that the Mounties this year have only captured 62 illegal immigrants compared to 81 in 2022.
Nevertheless, Seel told Radio Canada that all activity along the border impacts the RCMP and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, since both agencies often work together to enforce their borders and assist in rescues.
“That's one of the concerns that we're looking at moving into the cold weather season, [because] that's when most of those rescues on our part tend to take place,” she added.
The frequent illegal crossings sometimes end in tragedy, according to Marcus, who confirmed his agency responds to quite a few 911 calls every winter that could develop into a life-threatening situation.
Two years ago, a family of four from India froze to death near Emerson, Manitoba in an attempt to enter the U.S. from Canada.
Last April, nine men, including seven Mexicans between the ages of 19 and 46, had to be rescued from a flooded bog in northern Minnesota.
“Sometimes we're able to get to them before there's any injuries that happen or frostbite sets in, or other dangers that they face,” said Marcus.
“We don't want to see people get hurt, we don't want to see people risk their lives, and we don't want anybody to end up dying to try and come here illegally.”
According to data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 70 of the 100 people caught illegally crossing from Manitoba into North Dakota or Minnesota between last October and March 2023 were Mexican.
That number does not include the nine men rescued, reported the CBC.
“It's pretty common,” added the border agent. “Year after year, it seems like Mexico is the number one nationality of people that we see that cross.”