In the Swanton Sector, Border Patrol agents apprehended a Colombian immigrant in Vermont for allegedly smuggling a group of Mexican immigrants across the Canadian border. The Colombian had previously entered the U.S. illegally in Texas just over a year ago and had been released by the Biden administration on immigration parole.
Swanton Sector Chief Patrol Agent Robert Garcia emphasized the impact of southern border issues on the northern border, “What’s happening along our southern border affects our northern border as well. Border security is national security.”
A Border Patrol agent at the Beecher Falls Border Patrol Station, patrolling the Canadian border in Vermont, noticed a Honda Accord behaving suspiciously in an area known for human smuggling activity. The agent relayed a description of the vehicle on the radio, and another agent spotted the same vehicle approximately 11 miles away.
Winter weather is rapidly approaching Swanton Sector. With temperatures already dipping into the 30s, the dangers of unlawful entry into the U.S. along the northern border are increasing—not only for the violators, but for the agents & first responders who rescue them. pic.twitter.com/B2vcEJYEK4
— Chief Patrol Agent Robert Garcia (@USBPChiefSWB) October 16, 2023
The vehicle driver attempted to conceal their face as they drove by, and three additional passengers were observed in the back seat with no one in the front passenger seat. A vehicle stop was conducted to perform an immigration interview.
The driver was identified as 28-year-old David Henao-Palacio, a Colombian citizen who presented a New Jersey driver’s license. When the agent attempted to interview the rear-seat passengers, the driver instructed them not to speak. The passengers appeared nervous, as detailed in the criminal complaint.
The agent removed the driver and passengers from the vehicle, placing them alongside the roadway. While checking their status with Swanton Sector dispatch, the three passengers fled into the woods. Henao-Palacio was handcuffed and turned over to another agent who arrived at the scene.
Subsequently, the fleeing passengers were tracked down in the woods and taken into custody. A records check confirmed that they were Mexican nationals who had illegally crossed the border from Canada into Vermont.
According to the criminal complaint, Henao-Palacio had illegally entered the U.S. by crossing the border from Mexico near Hidalgo, Texas, on August 31, 2022. After processing in the Rio Grande Valley Sector, he was “paroled” into the U.S. and reported to an ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations office on November 2, 2022.
He had an immigration court appearance scheduled for August 23, 2024. Henao-Palacio admitted that an individual had contacted him to pick up the three passengers and offered him $500 per person to bring the Mexican nationals to New Brunswick, New Jersey.
The Colombian national now faces charges of human smuggling and, if convicted, could potentially serve up to five years in federal prison and be subject to deportation from the U.S.
It’s important to note that the Swanton Sector is experiencing a significant increase in immigrant apprehensions. Agents in the sector, covering the Canadian border in eastern New York, Vermont and New Hampshire, apprehended more than 1,000 migrants in the first month of FY24.
This spike represents an increase of nearly 200% compared to October 2022 and is roughly equal to the total apprehensions for Fiscal Year 2022.
Releasing individuals with a history of involvement in human smuggling, such as the case of David Henao-Palacio, poses a significant concern regarding Biden’s immigration policy. Not only does it undermine the principles of border security and national safety, but it also perpetuates a cycle of illegal immigration and human smuggling.
Allowing such individuals to roam freely not only endangers the lives of those being smuggled but also raises questions about the efficacy of immigration enforcement and the potential for further criminal activities. This situation highlights the need for a comprehensive and responsible approach to immigration that prioritizes the safety and security of the nation first and foremost.