Human smuggling and illegal border crossings along the southern border make daily headlines, but it's also a problem with U.S.'s northern neighbors, The Associated Press reported.
While the number of arrests is much smaller than those at the U.S.-Mexico border, there's increasing concern since detainments have more than doubled this year over last year.
“The number of illegal alien apprehensions at the Vermont-Canada border has skyrocketed,” Christina Nolan, Vermont’s U.S. attorney, told the AP.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents have apprehended 324 illegal immigrants who've crossed from Canada to the U.S. between New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire, so far this year.
In 2017, authorities detained 165 people. Immigrants have paid sophisticated smugglers up to $4,000 to cross into Vermont from Quebec.
“They are very well organized. They have scouted the area. They have scouted us,” U.S. Border Patrol agent Richard Ross told the AP. “Basically, we are not dealing with the JV team; this is the varsity.”
Why are the numbers increasing?
Border security officials partially blame the spike on the ease of entry into the less-scrutinized Canadian border.
Much of the activity appears to be focused on a 30-mile stretch where Derby Line, Vermont, and Stanstead, Quebec, where businesses, homes and even the community library are bisected by an international border, according to the report.
Another contributing factor is visa-less entry into Canada for immigrants from Mexico and Romania, according to Nolan, who added that a plane ticket from Mexico City to Montreal or Toronto can cost less than $350.
It's easier for the Mexican nationals to cross into the U.S. from Canada than it is from Mexico into the U.S.
But lately, Vermont agents have become involved in more border chases similar to those that occur along the southern border.
“They have kind of gone southern-border style where they are taking a hike and they are coming through the tall grass,” Ross said. “It’s something I would have seen years ago when I worked in Harlingen, Texas.”
The flow of illegal crossings goes both ways, according to the AP, which has claimed that many Americans have fled to Canada since President Donald Trump took office.