Illegal Immigration Also On Northern Border
Amid calls from President Donald Trump to secure the nation’s borders, much of the emphasis has been on the Mexican border.
But officials say the country’s northern border is busy, too.
“Most people don’t realize, but you have over 1 million people every day at a point of entry. It’s a huge job,” said a Customs and Border Patrol spokesperson. “There are 54,000 border patrol agents nationwide.”
Between Oct. 1, 2016, and Sept. 30, 2017, U.S. Customs and Border Protection apprehended 3,027 people attempting to illegally cross into the U.S. from Canada. Of that number, 896 were in sectors that touch the northern border of New York. And of those, 140 cases were prosecuted.
From Jan. 1 to April 30 this year, 35 misdemeanor-level illegal entry cases were prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York.
“Sometimes, depending on the case, they are referred for prosecution,” said Richard Southwick, a public information officer for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York.
But many times, illegal entry cases involving first-time offenses are handled administratively without going to court, he said.
“There are various levels of prosecution.”
Once in court, illegal entry conviction is a misdemeanor for the first offense and a felony for repeat offenders. For those who return after having been removed from the country, penalties increase with each additional attempt, federal prosecutors say.
Not everyone who enters the country illegally is caught at the border, however.
Sometimes, Southwick said, federal prosecutors stumble onto situations where prisoners facing other charges are found also to be in the country illegally. Typically, in those cases, “they will serve their sentence here in New York then be prosecuted in federal court for unlawful entry,” he said.
So, what happens if you show up at a port of entry and want to become a United States citizen?
“You can’t do it right there. You are referred to another part of the Department of Homeland Security (called) Citizenship and Immigration Services,” Southwick said.
There, you provide a lot of biographical information and are screened and processed and, if it all checks out, put on a path to naturalization.
“That takes about a month,” he said.
More than million travelers arrive at U.S. borders every day to legally enter the United States, according to the Customs and Border Patrol. Travelers arrive at 328 legal ports of entry, which include airports, seaports and land crossings. Each traveler is inspected to determine admissibility to the United States.
This article is written by Jolene Cleaver from Observer-Dispatch, Utica, N.Y. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.