MONTREAL (CBS) - The Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service said late Thursday it was investigating the discovery of six bodies in a marshy area of Quebec near Canada’s border with New York state. Police said they were awaiting the results of post-mortem and toxicology tests to determine the cause of death.
They said they were still trying to identify the dead and their status in Canada. It wasn’t immediately known if they were migrants trying to cross the border.
“The first body was located around 5:00 P.M. in a marsh area in Tsi Snaihne, Akwesasne, Quebec,” police said in a statement on social media. “There is no threat to the public at this time.”
Last month, the Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service and the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Police reported a recent increase in illegal entries through their lands and waterways. The statement said some migrants required hospitalization. And in January the force noted people involved in human smuggling had attempted to utilize shorelines along the St. Lawrence River in the area.
U.S. President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a plan last week to close a loophole to an immigration agreement that allowed thousands of asylum-seeking migrants to move between the two countries along a back road linking New York state to Quebec.
The deal closing an illegal border crossing point about 66 miles east of Akwesasne took effect Saturday.
For two decades, the so-called “safe third country” agreement between the U.S. and Canada had only applied at official border crossings, meaning American and Canadian authorities were not able to turn away asylum-seekers who used the illegal Roxham Road crossing.
As CBS News immigration reporter Camilo Montoya-Galvez reported, under the deal brokered this month, the existing accord will now apply to migrants who cross the U.S.-Canada border between official border crossings, too, a change that Canadian officials had long pushed for, U.S. officials said.
Nearly 40,000 asylum-seekers crossed into Canada without authorization in 2022, the vast majority of them along the unofficial Roxham Road crossing between New York and Quebec, according to Canadian government figures.
In contrast, Border Patrol processed 3,577 migrants who crossed into the U.S. illegally from Canada in 2022, according to government data. While illegal crossings into the U.S. along the northern border have increased in recent months, rising to 628 in February, they remain well below the migration levels recorded along the southern border, where thousands of migrants are processed daily.