Intensify U.S.-Canadian border security

Satirical as it might sound, before Sept. 11, an orange cone in the road provided the only security against late-night crossings at some U.S.-Canadian border posts. Since the attacks, though, U.S. and Canadian officials appropriated approximately a quarter of a billion dollars to tighten what Attorney General John Ashcroft dubbed a “porous” border.

Unfortunately, no matter how much money officials spend trying to shore up security between the two countries, it won’t do enough. The 4,000 miles shared by the United States and Canada is the largest undefended border in the world. More goods cross that border than are traded between any other two countries. It is simply not possible to create as tight a security system as is needed. Laborious and lengthy border inspections would cripple the $420 billion annual trade and deter travelers from visiting tourist attractions such as the Mall of America. And if the 8,000 Mexican-U.S. border agents cannot stop illegal Mexican immigrants, the proposed 1,000 U.S.-Canadian border patrol agents will not stop pilots, bio-terrorists and explosive experts bent on destroying the United States.

Instead, the two governments need to construct a so-called “perimeter wall” around North America, reducing the need for time-consuming procedures on the U.S.-Canadian border. A perimeter wall would standardize immigration, customs and security laws throughout both countries so goods or people coming into Canada would receive the same security measures as if they had entered into the United States. Although this will not mitigate the necessity for U.S.-Canadian border patrols and stations, it will drastically reduce time and money wasted at the borders.

Currently, Canada’s protocol on immigration is far more lax than the United States’. Dozens of terrorist groups reportedly have a presence in Canada, including those with ties to Osama bin Laden, for Canada has long maintained a liberal policy of political asylum. Canada’s immigration policies need to be brought to par with U.S. laws. If Canadians care about their neighbor – and the record 100,000 people who turned out to mourn at Ottawa’s Parliament Hill would lead us to believe they do – then they have to pass laws barring potential terrorists from entering their country. And Canadians are not opposed to such measures. In fact, they are in favor of them by a landslide – 85 percent of Canadians favor making the types of changes required to create a joint secure perimeter, according to the Financial Post, a Canadian newspaper.

With public support so high, the time so urgent and the need so great, U.S. and Canadian officials must do what is necessary – cocreate a perimeter wall that will keep North America safe.