Yankee Classic: US/Canadian Border Crossings 25 Years Ago
Illegal immigration has long been a massive headache for the United States government. It is estimated that there are as many as 6,000,000 illegal aliens in the United States today. There is presently no law against hiring them and, since many will accept less than the legal minimum wage, some take jobs that unemployed Americans would gladly take. Once almost eradicated, sweatshops are markedly on the increase again.
Initiated to address these issues, the Simpson-Mazzoli bill was passed overwhelmingly by the Senate, but the Democratic leadership of the House, under Speaker Tip O’Neill, has pigeonholed it, allegedly because it might give offense to Hispanic-American voters. The Senate version of the bill would grant amnesty to those illegal aliens who could prove entry to the United States before 1980; it would also prohibit the employment of illegal aliens under penalty of fine and/or imprisonment. In a recent editorial The New York Times said of the Simpson-Mazzoli bill, “There’s no measure before the new session of Congress that more deserves public attention or prompt enactment by the House.”
Whether the bill is enacted or not, the often rueful duty of the Border Patrol is to enforce the law, turning back all those who would enter the United States illegally.
In manpower, the Swanton sector of the Border Patrol is the largest of eight sectors along our northern border with Canada. At any time, day or night, about 12 of Swanton’s 55 agents patrol the sector’s 40 I-mile-long stretch of the border from Colebrook, New Hampshire, to Alexandria Bay, New York. The country along this stretch of the border is sparsely settled. Many of the people are of French-Canadian origin, and those who are not farmers work in light manufacturing or logging, or cater to an increasing year-round tourist trade. The towns and small cities on the U.S. side are often clustered around village greens with veterans’ memorials. Their town meetings deal with local issues. The land is still heavily forested here and there, dotted with swamps, and gentled by long-worked farms.
One night in December 1981 Doug Kruhm sat knee-deep in a snow drift. He felt himself just about freezing to death after sitting for two hours in the night’s 25″ temperature. Dawn was still three hours away, yet he kept his eyes glued to the nightscope trained on the field in front of him. A deep ravine divided the field and split into two gullies, cutting the field roughly into thirds. Patiently, shivering in the darkness, Kruhm watched for a sign that Sam Bishop was smuggling five Guyanese across the U.S.-Canadian border located a half mile to the north. Although Bishop already had been caught twice, he was out on bail. The Border Patrol had received a tip that he was running the Canadian connection once again.
Kruhm’s walkie-talkie crackled. A border patrolman watching the opposite side of the ravine said, “They’re coming your way. One of them has a wooden leg.”
“Where are they?” Kruhm replied. “I can’t see them.”
“He’s taking them across the field to the West Access Road.”
“That’s your side,” said Kruhm. “Are you sure?”
Kruhm loped through the snow to his car and fired the engine. Searchlights flared across the snow-covered field.