9 detained, some treated for hypothermia after Canada-U.S. border crossing incident: sheriff

Nine people were detained trying to cross the border from Canada to the U.S. at “illegal ports of entry” on Tuesday after the group called police for help as some were experiencing hypothermia, a Minnesota police official says.

Roseau County Sheriff Steve Gust said some in the group were detained after calling 911 in the morning for help. Others were sent to hospital for treatment for hypothermia, he told The Canadian Press.

Gust said the group was trying to enter Minnesota from Manitoba through a wooded area near Sprague, Man., about 145 kilometres southeast of Winnipeg. Roseau is about 20 kilometres south of Minnesota’s shared border with Manitoba.

U.S. authorities also reached out to Manitoba RCMP for help searching an area of the border near Sprague for a missing person, said RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Julie Courchaine.

“We have officers on scene at this time and RCMP search and rescue are headed there as well,” she said in an emailed statement early Tuesday afternoon.

Steven Bansbach, a spokesperson with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said a group of people were involved in an incident that involved crossing the border without inspection at “illegal ports of entry.”

Over the noon hour, Roseau County Coun. Levi Novacek said he saw helicopters flying in the area.

When contacted by CBC News, the Canada Border Services Agency said in a statement that it is not involved in what it termed the “rescue effort” and deferred to RCMP and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.

A map shows areas just north and south of where Manitoba and Minnesota meet at the Canada-U.S. border.
RCMP said they were contacted by U.S. authorities to help search for a missing person near the Canada-U.S. border in the Sprague area on Tuesday. (CBC)

The latest border crossing incident comes just over a year after a family of four from India froze to death trying to walk south across the border near Emerson, Man.

Last month, Canada negotiated a deal with the U.S. to allow Canada to turn away migrants coming north at irregular crossings.

That deal relates to the Safe Third Country Agreement and means migrants who arrive in Canada from the U.S. at unofficial ports of entry will no longer be allowed to make asylum claims.

The change took effect two days after it was announced last month, enabling border agents to turn away asylum seekers trying to get into Canada as long as they are found within two weeks of arriving in Canada.

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