No break in surge of illegals crossing the northern border

There’s been no let-up in the increased number of illegal aliens attempting to enter the U.S from Canada along the Grand Forks sector of the border encompassing Minnesota and North Dakota. Detentions in the current fiscal year rival the record numbers of illegals captured last year. U.S. Border Patrol agents periodically post updates on the agency’s Facebook page to thank citizens who report suspicious activity and potential smugglers.

If you see something say something works. A local resident notified Pembina Border Patrol agents that a group of migrants were seen walking on a gravel road near Neche, ND. Agents responded and arrested 19 migrants from Romania who entered the U.S. illegally. Great job!

While the number of illegals entering the U.S. on the southern border far surpasses those in the north, total detainees in the Grand Forks sector nearly tripled in 2023 compared to the previous year. And federal officials told the Grand Forks Herald traffic remains as brisk and brazen as ever so far this year.

In FY 2023, the Grand Forks Sector of Border Patrol detained 300 people near the U.S.-Canada border. In FY 2022, there were 81 detained. In FY 2021, there were 90.

In October, Chief Patrol Agent Scott Garrett said it was likely that the significant incline was due to increased traffic as well as additional patrols. Further, the COVID-19 pandemic slowed illegal crossings.

The break in the usually severe winter weather has made it less perilous to attempt crossing from Canada. But it’s far more than the elements that make attempting to sneak across the border a risky proposition.

“If they’re using a smuggling organization, they’re really at the hands of that smuggling organization,” Marcus said. “Where you’re crossing, when you’re crossing. They don’t take weather into account most of the time.”

Most of the people detained within the Grand Forks Sector’s jurisdiction are part of a group. There are occasionally pairs or trios, but very rarely is an individual detained by themselves, Marcus said.

This winter, there have been larger groups than usual, with one group of 15 and another of 19. Detained near Neche, North Dakota, they were all originally from Romania, Marcus said.

Meantime, border patrol agents applauded the recent arrest of an alleged trafficker sought in connection with the deaths of a family of four from India who froze to death two years ago attempting to enter Minnesota in a blizzard.

Harshkumar Patel was arrested in Chicago and is facing human smuggling charges in connection to the smuggling operation where a family of 4 from India lost their lives just over 2 years ago. He is believed to have hired Steve Shand to pick up the family and others in the U.S. Shand’s trial is set to begin this spring. We are happy that our law enforcement partners were able to identify and arrest another individual in connection with this tragedy.