Napolitano’s priority: Canada border
Vulnerabilities along the Canadian border are one of more than a half-dozen priorities identified by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano during her first week, along with cybersecurity and ensuring that federal officials are properly communicating with state and local officials.
“The northern border of the United States has become, since 9/11, important to our national security,” Miss Napolitano wrote in an action directive issued Friday [Jan. 23–text here].
“As we have designed programs to afford greater protection against unlawful entry, members of Congress and homeland security experts have called for increased attention to the Canadian border,” the directive said.
Miss Napolitano asked for an oral report by Feb. 10 on current vulnerabilities, the overall strategy to reduce such, a budget and time frame for improving security, and the level of risk that will remain once the programs are completed…
I fear two former Canadian ambassadors may have been rather over-optimistic about how the new president’s administration will deal with Canadian border issues:
It is encouraging that there was little mention of border issues during the presidential campaign. This suggests that Americans may be recovering from the trauma of the immediate post-9/11 period. The new Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, has made a welcome distinction between northern and southern borders, acknowledging that different measures may be required to deal with each.
This having been said, the border is becoming an increasingly serious obstacle to the free flow of commerce and people. Many of the benefits of the Smart Border Accord of 2001 have been rolled back as Congress accepted such restrictive measures as passport requirements at Canada-U.S. land borders, 100-per-cent screening by 2011 of containers entering the U.S. (despite prior inspection at Canadian ports of entry) and the Secure Fence Act replicating some of the tighter measures characterizing the U.S.-Mexican border.
Modernizing our borders should stand atop the agenda for Mr. Obama’s visit to Ottawa…
Michael Kergin and Allan Gotlieb are senior advisers to the law firm Bennett Jones LLP, and former Canadian ambassadors to the United States.
Looks like more over-optimism in this earlier Toronto Star story too:
More common sense at border predicted
Obama’s appointment of Janet Napolitano inspiring confidence in Ottawa and industry
For a glimpse of one current border reality, read this post:
That old undefended border ain’t what she used to be