By Guy Page
According to a March 20 news report in the Caledonian-Record, the U.S. Border Patrol is dropping off illegal immigrants who crossed the Canadian border at a municipal welcome center/bus depot in St. Johnsbury.
The drop-off was confirmed by Gov. Scott and senior administration officials today at a press conference.
From the St. Johnsbury Welcome Center on Depot Street (off the intersection of Eastern Avenue and Railroad Street), the illegal immigrants go wherever they want – including getting on a bus, Police Chief Timothy Page [no relation to author] told the Caledonian-Record, the daily newspaper for Caledonia County whose Eastern Avenue offices are within sight of the St. J. Welcome Center.
Illegal border crossers have been left at the outdoor Welcome Center the last two Monday nights, Page reportedly said.
“We had people asleep on our floor in the lobby this morning. They were given services as quick as we could get them…I heard there were maybe ten dropped off but there were only 3-4 that we could account for. I don’t know where the other ones went. They may have got on an RCT bus or whatever – I don’t know,” Page reportedly said.
RCT is the region’s bus service, offering connections to Montpelier, Burlington and other destinations.
The downtown dropoffs are likely to continue because federal authorities simply don’t have the space to keep all of the illegal immigrants crossing the border, Page said. As reported in VDC recently, Canadian border crossings in the Swanton Sector (parts of NY, all of VT, NH) have been up over 800% in recent months.
Some illegal immigrants are sent back over the border, others are detained in state and federal facilities. But – as the Caledonian-Record report shows – others now are simply being released into the general population, to go wherever they choose.
State of Vermont response – At today’s press conference, Gov. Scott said he learned about the illegal immigrant drop-offs last night. He referred questions to his senior administration officials. The Agency of Human Services has convened a team to look at the housing, food and other services raised by an influx of illegal immigrants, Secretary Jen Samuelson said at the press conference. The team has begun working with affected local towns.
Scott administration officials also said they have been told ‘anecdotally’ that the immigrants left at the depot are those who had no plan, no-one waiting to pick them up on the U.S. side of the border. “They’re trying to get to New York State or Boston….that’s what we’re being told,” Public Safety Commissioner Jennifer Morrison said. VDC asked Morrison if she has said to Border Patrol, “this is your problem, do something about this”?
“That’s not the way we roll in Vermont, sir,” Morrison said with a smile. Instead, they have been in touch in a collaborative way with federal officials and are seeking to deal with the influx “in a humane, responsible manner.”