By Guy Page
The Scott administration is unaware of any plans by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to fly illegal migrants from the southwest border to Vermont, Press Secretary Jason Maulucci said Thursday.
An internal Department of Homeland Security memo discusses the transfer of migrants from the overwhelmed southern border to the Swanton Sector of the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), which includes all of the Vermont-Canada border and parts of the international border, the Washington Free Beacon reported Oct. 7.
“This is the first anyone in our office has heard anything about this. We are unaware of any plans DHS might have,” Maulucci said.
A Customs and Border Patrol spokesperson answered a Chronicle inquiry Friday: “U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) continually evaluates possible contingency plans and adjusts its operations as circumstances dictate, but currently there are no plans to transfer migrants from the Southwest border to the Northern or Coastal borders.”
Neither answer is surprising, as the memo shows an agency considering options for relieving the overcrowding on the southern border, not an agency that has a plan it’s ready to announce to other governmental affected states. For example, the memo — which is not reproduced in the story — asks whether additional “processing machines” are required. This may refer to CBP fingerprinting machines that immediately load prints into a data base.
Viewed from the office of a Homeland Security senior official, the quiet Swanton sector would seem a tempting place to process and detain suspected illegal immigrants. Last year, the Swanton Sector had a mere 2,155 “encounters” — CBP-speak for apprehensions of attempted crossings by illegal immigrants. However, such a ‘central office’ decision could overwhelm the Swanton Sector’s processing facilities, which presumably are scaled to handle a relative trickle of encounters. By comparison, the southern border district had over 400,000 encounters, according to CBP statistics:
Not that attempted entry into Vermont has been a trickle in recent weeks. During the past weekend, 21 people — mostly Central Americans — were caught and expelled trying to enter Vermont. “Another busy weekend for #BorderPatrol in #Vermont!,” the Swanton Sector Border Patrol Facebook post exclaimed.
The previous weekend, seven Guatemalans were caught and expelled. The memo also shows that the Swanton Sector would need new computers and cellular systems to internet connections, the Free Beacon reports. Compared to flat southern border regions, the Swanton sector is hilly and Vermont’s cellular and internet service remain spotty, especially in rural areas. Many are the ‘Black Holes’ where cellphones and GPS driving directions and tracking devices would be rendered useless.Given that DHS seems to be ramping up a Vermont airlift during late fall and winter, there’s also the question of Vermont’s chilly northern climate.
One senior DHS official quoted in the Free Beacon seems to be aware of the problem: “The idea of moving migrants from Haiti and South America to one of the country’s coldest regions shows how disastrous the situation is on the southern border and that DHS is running low on options.”
Guy Page is publisher of the Vermont Daily Chronicle. Reprinted with permission.