Sen. Maggie Hassan serves on the Homeland Security Committee, which directly oversees the policing of America’s borders. But with Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) reporting an 846 percent increase in illegal crossings at the northern border this fiscal year — in the sector that includes New Hampshire — it’s Gov. Chris Sununu who is taking action, not the D.C.-based Democrat.
According to the Center for Immigration Studies, most of the 67,000 non-Canadians caught crossing illegally last year came from places like China, Colombia, and the Philippines.
“Most importantly, nearly 32,000 of them were from ‘other’ countries around the world,” CIS reports.
Despite sharing a 5,500-mile border with Canada, more than half of the ongoing surge is occurring in just one place: the Border Patrol’s Swanton sector, which includes Coos, Grafton, and Carroll Counties.
“Despite area temperatures reaching -4 degrees Fahrenheit, January’s total surpassed the preceding January apprehensions for the past 12 years combined,” CBP reported. “Prior to January, Swanton Sector experienced an uninterrupted 7-month streak of sustained encounter increases—part of an upward trend dating back to the beginning of fiscal year 2022.”
In response, Sununu put $1.5 million in his budget proposal to “establish a northern border alliance program … to focus on reducing the instance of crimes and illicit activity occurring within 25 air miles from the Canadian border.”
Sununu said his goal is to fill a security gap being left by President Joe Biden’s border policies.
“The Biden administration has pulled back on Northern Border personnel and resources, so the state is stepping up,” Sununu said. “We requested with the Federal Government a formal ICE Delegation Agreement that would empower and allow our state and local law enforcement the ability to enforce immigration laws and apprehend illegal border crossings at our northern border in the absence of federal support.”
Jessica Vaughan with the Center for Immigration studies tells NHJournal she isn’t surprised by developments on the northern border.
“Since Biden has allowed the southern border situation stay out of control, naturally the human smugglers have opened up more routes on the northern border, too,” Vaughan said. “These are criminal enterprises, and typically they smuggle more than people. They are often trafficking people as well. New Hampshire can do a lot to fill in the big gaps in federal security, and it should, in order to avoid becoming a doormat for the smugglers and traffickers.”
A group of 28 U.S. House members recently created the Northern Border Security Caucus. According to a statement from the caucus, “border patrol staffing along the northern border has remained flat since 2009.” No members of the New Hampshire delegation joined the organization.
Hassan’s record on border policy has been mixed. When she first joined the Senate in 2017, she was an outspoken opponent of building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. She voted against a 2018 compromise that would have granted eventual citizenship to 1.8 million of the so-called DREAMers in exchange for border wall funding, ending the unpopular visa lottery system and other reforms.
But in 2022, with what appeared to be a competitive reelection campaign approaching, Hassan tweeted photos of herself standing in front of a stretch of border wall — with barbed wire across the top — endorsing the construction of more “physical barriers” along the Mexico border. She also angered progressives by reversing her position and embracing Title 42 restrictions on border crossers.
Asked about the surge in illegal crossings at the northern border, as well as the record number of illegal immigrants overall under Biden, Hassan declined to answer.
This weekend’s snowstorm was a reminder of the risks that come with crossing illegally at the northern border.
“As we progress deeper into winter and continue to address the ongoing pace of illicit cross-border traffic, the level of concern for the lives and welfare of our Border Patrol Agents and those we are encountering – particularly vulnerable populations – continues to climb,” said Swanton Sector Chief Patrol Agent Robert N. Garcia. “It cannot be stressed enough: not only is it unlawful to circumvent legal means of entry into the United States, but it is extremely dangerous, particularly in adverse weather conditions, which our Swanton Sector has in incredible abundance,” he added.