Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

U.S. border sees more sneak into Canada than other way

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OTTAWA -- More people were caught trying to sneak into Canada at remote border points with the United States in 2008 than the other way around, a newly released intelligence report reveals.

It was the second straight year that continental human smuggling and other surreptitious crossings tilted in Canada's direction.

The RCMP attributes the trend to factors including a U.S. crackdown on undocumented workers, more American agents along the border and the shaky state of the U.S. economy.

The figures, the latest available, show 952 people were caught entering Canada between legitimate border crossings, while 819 were U.S.-bound.

The numbers appear in the 2009 Integrated Border Enforcement Team threat assessment report, obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.

The 15 binational teams strung along the border include members of the RCMP, the Canada Border Services Agency, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Service, the U.S. Coast Guard and other American agencies.

They work at strategic points between border crossings to thwart smugglers of everything from people and drugs to currency and firearms.

Human smuggling groups identified by the teams have international contacts and focused in 2008 on the B.C.-Washington state border as well as the Quebec-New York-Vermont corridor, the report says.

"They charge excessive fees for directions and send many uninformed migrants on their way to the U.S. and to Canada to claim refugee status."

The report, which says many of the people coming northward are from the Americas, does not indicate how many were legitimate refugees fleeing persecution. However, it adds: "The unknown intention of individuals seeking illegal entry into either country is a concern."

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 18, 2010 A13

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