Open bor­der: not soon

Stanstead Journal - - FRONT PAGE - Staff Stanstead

Three years af­ter Pres­i­dent Obama and Prime Min­is­ter Harper re­leased the Be­yond the Bor­der Dec­la­ra­tion, ar­tic­u­lat­ing a shared vi­sion in which our coun­tries work to­gether to ad­dress threats at the ear­li­est point pos­si­ble while fa­cil­i­tat­ing the le­git­i­mate move­ment of peo­ple, goods and ser­vices across our shared bor­der, Sec­re­tary of Home­land Se­cu­rity Jeh John­son and Cana­dian Min­is­ter of Pub­lic Safety and Emer­gency Pre­pared­ness Steven Blaney on Mon­day signed the Agree­ment on Land, Rail, Ma­rine, and Air Trans­port Pre­clear­ance Be­tween the Govern­ment of the United States of Amer­ica and the Govern­ment of Canada. This new agree­ment reaf­firms the United States and Canada’s com­mit­ment to en­hanc­ing se­cu­rity while fa­cil­i­tat­ing law­ful travel and trade, and su­per­sedes the ex­ist­ing U.S. -Canada Air Pre­clear­ance agree­ment signed in 2001.

«Af­ter years of hard work and ne­go­ti­a­tions, to­day we have one of the most sig­nif­i­cant, vis­i­ble, and an­tic­i­pated prod­ucts of the Be­yond the Bor­der ini­tia­tive a ma­jor achieve­ment that will pro­duce sig­nif­i­cant benefits for the United States and Canada,» said Sec­re­tary John­son. «This agree­ment will help fa­cil­i­tate the le­git­i­mate trade and travel that keeps our econ­omy thriv­ing as we main­tain ut­most vig­i­lance to the se­cu­rity of our bor­ders. We re­main com­mit­ted to our deep part­ner­ship with Canada, a true ally, neigh­bor and friend of the United States.»

«Our Govern­ment’s top pri­or­ity re­mains creat­ing jobs and op­por­tu­ni­ties for Cana­di­ans,» said Min­is­ter Blaney. «This his­toric new agree­ment builds on decades of suc­cess­ful pre­clear­ance op­er­a­tions in Cana­dian air­ports. It will en­hance the se­cu­rity at our bor­der and cre­ate jobs and growth in Canada by im­prov­ing the flow of le­git­i­mate goods and peo­ple be­tween our two coun­tries.»

This Pre­clear­ance agree­ment al­low­ing for the im­mi­gra­tion, cus­toms and agri­cul­ture in­spec­tions re­quired for en­try into ei­ther coun­try to oc­cur on for­eign soil will re­duce con­ges­tion and de­lays at the bor­der and in­crease ef­fi­ciency and pre­dictabil­ity in cross-bor­der travel, tourism and trans­porta­tion. The new agree­ment pro­vides of­fi­cials of U.S. Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion (CBP) and Canada Bor­der Ser­vices Agency (CBSA) with the req­ui­site au­thor­i­ties and tools to con­duct their bor­der se­cu­rity, fa­cil­i­ta­tion, and in­spec­tion pro­cesses in the other coun­try.

En­hanced au­thor­i­ties for pre­clear­ance of­fi­cers in­clude the abil­ity to carry firearms, de­fen­sive tools, and re­straint de­vices to the same ex­tent that Host Party of­fi­cers are per­mit­ted to carry in the rel­e­vant op­er­at­ing en­vi­ron­ments.

The agree­ment ad­dresses of­fi­cer priv­i­leges and im­mu­ni­ties through a shared ju­ris­dic­tional frame­work in which the send­ing coun­try may gen­er­ally ex­er­cise pri­mary crim­i­nal ju­ris­dic­tion for acts com­mit­ted by its of­fi­cers in the per­for­mance of of­fi­cial du­ties in the Host coun­try.

Given the ground­break­ing na­ture of the agree­ment, the United States and Canada must en­act leg­is­la­tion for it to be im­ple­mented. The Civil­ian Ex­trater­ri­to­rial Ju­ris­dic­tion Act was in­tro­duced in the last Congress, and we are hope­ful of its rein­tro­duc­tion in this Congress. Cur­rently, the 2001 U.S.-Canada Air Trans­port Pre­clear­ance Agree­ment con­tin­ues to ap­ply.

Ver­mont in­de­pen­dent Se­na­tor Bernie San­ders wel­comed ear­lier the new agree­ment be­tween the United States and Canada that could help re­store pas­sen­ger train ser­vice to and from Mon­treal and lead to stream­lined bor­der cross­ing pro­ce­dures for mo­torists and air­line pas­sen­gers.

“We want our bor­ders to be safe and se­cure, of course, but we also must work to pre­serve the cen­turies-old friend­ship be­tween our na­tions and the abil­ity of Amer­i­cans and Cana­di­ans to freely cross the bor­der,” San­ders said.

The agree­ment would re­quire leg­is­la­tion to im­ple­ment, he said in his press re­lease. This is only an agree­ment and there are doubts that a Repub­li­can­led Congress will al­low any mod­i­fi­ca­tion to the flow of traf­fic on the North­ern Bor­der, as Mex­ico is sure to yell bloody mur­der on a ‘gringo’ only deal.

The agree­ment also has the po­ten­tial to help re­lieve con­ges­tion at Ver­mont’s high­way bor­der cross­ings. “The eco­nomic links be­tween Canada and Ver­mont are vi­tal, and there is great po­ten­tial to make them stronger,” said Se­na­tor San­ders.

San­ders last year or­ga­nized meet­ings in Ver­mont with se­nior U.S. Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion of­fi­cials to dis­cuss a de­crease in the num­ber of bor­der pa­trol of­fi­cers at Ver­mont ports of en­try. “I have long been con­cerned that re­duc­tions in per­son­nel at the north­ern bor­der are slow­ing travel and com­merce with our sin­gle largest trad­ing part­ner.”

Photo cour­tesy

DHS Sec­re­tary Jeh John­son and Cana­dian Pub­lic Safety Min­is­ter Steven

Blaney sign­ing the pre­clear­ance agree­ment on Mon­day.

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