us canada border crossing

The U. S. is at risk from invasion through its northern border, a 4,000-mile stretch of mostly unattended territory in 12 states, with the confirmed presence of a number of terrorist and extremist groups in Canada, states a report from the Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D. C. “The primary threat along the northern border is the potential for extremists and their conveyances to enter the U. S. undetected,” the report maintains. There is an undisputed presence in Canada of known terrorist affiliate and extremist groups, including Hamas, Hezbollah and the Armed Islamic Group of Algeria. ” While the U. S. and Canada proudly have boasted that the dividing line between the two nations is the longest undefended international border in the post-9/11 world (there even is an International Peace Garden straddling the boundary on the edge of North Dakota), concerns over the movement of terrorists and their weaponry into the U. S. have increased exponentially–especially since it was revealed that, even before the attack on Sept. 1, 2001, an Algerian-born operative for Osama bin Laden’s network was caught crossing from Canada into Washington with a truck loaded with bomb-making materials, allegedly for use in a plot to bomb Los Angeles International Airport. The report notes terrorists could blend into the Canadian population since 90% of Canada’s residents live within 100 miles of the border but, on the U. S. side, much of the border is fronted by tens of thousands of square miles of sparsely populated forests in northern Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, and Minnesota. As such, the northern border’s operating environment differs appreciably from the southwest border and requires a different law enforcement approach,” the report stresses. During 2007, more than 70,000,000 traveled across the border, and law enforcement agents arrested 4,000 of them and intercepted 20 tons of contraband, mostly drugs. The Department of Homeland Security had proposed that those crossing the border be required to present documents denoting the citizenship and identity when entering the U. S. from Canada, but Congress then voted to delay that plan until 2009. U. S. A. today (magazine may, 2008) p7) The 25% Challenge: Speeding Cross-Border Traffic in Southeastern Michigan April 2006 Douglas Doan Douglas Doan worked in the Homeland Security Department from January 2004 to September 2005. He serves on the board of the Border Trade Alliance and is a member of the Dean’s Alumni Council at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. In November 2004, Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge was tired of the almost daily complaints about long wait times for cargo and passengers trying to cross the Canadian-U.

S. border into southeastern Michigan. There was good reason for these complaints. Long lines of trucks and cars queued up to cross the border as they negotiated stepped-up security processes put in place by Customs and Border Protection. While people supported improved border security, the immediate consequences were longer lines and slower transit times at border-crossing points. The average wait time for trucks and cars had increased to over 35 minutes, and it all too often exceeded two hours during peak traffic periods.

Border congestion in southeastern Michigan was giving shippers, manufacturers, and importers real fits and driving up costs. With nearly $1 billion in trade crossing across the U. S. -Canadian border each day, these delays were rippling through the economy, causing an estimated $5 billion in lost productivity per year, according to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. Over 40% of U. S. trade with Canada (our largest trade partner) crosses the border in southeastern Michigan; much of that trade was stuck in long lines at the border.

Thus, in late November, Secretary Ridge called and told me to get up to Detroit and see what could be done. I was not the most senior member of the Secretary’s staff, serving as a member of the Office of the Private Sector, but I had argued for months that many of our challenges at DHS, such as visa reform and supply chain security, would require a real partnership with the private sector because the government alone was unable to develop a working solution.

It was my belief that the government did not have the resources, knowledge, or entrepreneurial energy required for a task of this magnitude. The strongest advocate of this limited role of government and the need to form public-private partnerships to achieve superior results was President Bush, who has often said that sometimes the government can do the most by getting out of the way and letting the nation’s entrepreneurs do what they do best: solve problems. So I was off to Detroit to see whether DHS could orm a public-private partnership with the specific goal of reducing traffic congestion at border crossings and moving legitimate crossers much more quickly. It would be a great test to see whether the President’s notion of tapping the resources in the private sector could help the department reaches a specific and tangible goal of reducing long wait times at the border. Certainly a great idea, but would it work? My first step was to call all the owners and operators of the cross-border vehicular bridges and tunnel in eastern Michigan.

There are three major crossings: the largest is the Ambassador Bridge, easily the most important cross-border trade artery in the world, with more than 9 million trucks and passenger cars crossing each year. The next largest is the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron, MI, about 55 miles away, with a flow of 6 million trucks and cars annually. The Detroit-Windsor Tunnel is used annually by 5. 7 million cars and trucks. Normally, the owners and operators of these crossings are tough competitors seeking to lure cross-border traffic to their facilities, thereby capturing the tolls associated with each trip.

But they all confronted a common problem of slow transit times and congestion, which was not only making their customers (truck drivers, cargo companies, and tourists crossing into the United States from Canada) irate, but forcing large manufacturers to start rethinking their operations with the distinct possibility of relocating to other regions where they could escape the congestion. In short, the owners and operators of the southeastern Michigan crossings knew that if they did not do something soon to fix the problem, they would lose customers, perhaps permanently.

Few in government thought it would be possible to get these normally fierce competitors to agree to cooperate to find common solutions to a common problem, but in truth, the government could not have had a better group of partners. The owners and operators of the crossing points knew best exactly how cargo and passenger cars could be moved across the border more quickly. In fact, when asked whether they would participate in a public-private partnership to reduce the border-crossing times in southeastern Michigan, Dan Stamper, President of the Ambassador Bridge, wanted to know what took us so long.

Not only were they ready to help, he said, they would pledge the resources needed and put their best people on the team. Not only were the bridge and tunnel owners convinced that it could be done, they were willing to contribute the resources and effort to make it happen. Secretary Ridge was delighted to hear that the private sector was eager to participate. He was also convinced that such a collaborative effort could reduce transit times by 25%. Thus, on 17 December 2004, Secretary Ridge and Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan met in Detroit and announced the “25% Challenge. Its goal was to make quantifiable improvements in the transit times and reduce traffic congestion by leveraging the resources and leadership of the bridge, tunnel, and ferry owners in southeastern Michigan—specifically, to reduce transit times by 25% within one year. To be sure, the “25% Challenge” faced a great deal of initial skepticism, especially within the ranks of the career Customs and Border Protection senior leadership. They were concerned that Secretary Ridge had made a commitment to a measurable goal. They argued instead for vaguer objectives like “improve the transit times. To his credit, Secretary Ridge made a commitment to a quantifiable goal and a specific date by which it would be accomplished. The private-sector stakeholders quickly came up with suggestions that could alleviate border congestion without requiring additional lanes or infrastructure: ·Stan Korosec, [A1] from the Blue Water Bridge, suggested converting some of the inspection booths dedicated to passenger cars to dual-use booths that could serve trucks or cars as the situation demanded. Previously, Customs and Border Protection inspectors were unable to process trucks through lanes that were set up for the exclusive use of passenger cars.

Similarly, traffic lanes dedicated to passenger cars could not process trucks. Korosec’s simple idea would allow a dramatically increased flow of traffic. ·Neil Belitsky, the General Manager of the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, helped Customs and Border Protection officials better predict traffic flows so they could surge inspectors in anticipation of peak periods. ·Dan Stamper, President of the Ambassador Bridge, came up with an innovative way to increase the number of inspection booths that could be used during peak periods. These were only a few of the many ideas that were proposed.

Any idea that was judged to have a solid chance of speeding the flow of legitimate traffic while allowing federal officers to properly enforce a high level of security was fully considered by Customs and Border Protection. The best were rapidly implemented. Perhaps one of the most important steps that this public-private partnership took was to develop, with the active participation of the bridge and tunnel owners, an accurate system of measuring wait times. In the past, estimates of wait times were randomly taken by both the private sector and the government.

Neither system was accurate or reliable. We established a working group to combine the information collected by Customs and Border Protection and the data that bridge and tunnel owners possessed, allowing the team to develop a system to precisely measure wait times. More important, the team could now precisely measure the effect of individual measures and initiatives on crossing times. Very quickly, crossing times in southeastern Michigan grew measurably shorter as suggestions were tested. Initial successes generated wide enthusiasm and more suggestions.

The American Trucking Association and the Canadian Trucking Alliance also contributed ideas that sped the flow of cross-border traffic. By the summer of 2005, nine months after Secretary Ridge and Canadian Deputy Prime Minister McLellan issued the 25% Challenge, the results were greater than skeptics had believed possible. The average transit time for a truck or car crossing the border dropped from over 35 minutes to under 6 minutes. Within the next few months, wait times plummeted to less than 3 minutes at several of the busiest crossing points.

Frequent long queues became a thing of the past. Our original goal turned out to be too modest. Public-private cooperation actually reduced wait times by more than 70%. Given that the cost of an idling truck is estimated at $150 per hour, this success yields significant savings for manufacturers. It also reduces uncertainty at just-in-time manufacturing facilities. Changes in Wait Times for Trucks and Cars Crossing the U. S. -Canadian Border (2004-2005) in Southeastern Michigan LocationTypeCanada BoundU. S. Bound Ambassador BridgeTrucks–72%–71% Cars–55%–16%

Detroit-Windsor TunnelTrucks–72%–5% Cars–74%–8% Blue Water BridgeTrucks–83%–64% Cars–57%–34% There were several keys to this success: ·Leadership. Secretary Ridge and Deputy Prime Minister McLellan challenged all stakeholders to get involved in finding a solution to a significant problem. ·Goal setting. The establishment of a bold, specific goal inspired imagination and collaboration. ·Flexibility. Customs and Border Protection officials were open to new ideas. ·Cooperation. Instead of competing with each other, all crossing facility owner-operators contributed to a common cause.

Customs and Border Protection also became fully engaged in the search for solutions to the problem of congestion. All federal, state, provincial, and local agencies involved with border crossings pitched in too. ·Commitment. All involved were determined not just to reach the 25% goal but to quickly surpass it. ·True public-private collaboration. While the government frequently establishes public-private partnerships, too often these “partnerships” are significantly skewed, with the government setting the agenda and developing all the initiatives, which it then expects the private sector to support.

The 25% Challenge was a true public-private partnership where members met monthly and genuinely considered all ideas—good and bad—that could help meet the goal. Indeed, most of the leadership and the good ideas came from the private sector, not the government. All government officials were open to private-sector suggestions, allowing the leveraging of entrepreneurial energies and private-sector resources to solve common problems. Perhaps the most important element of success was the early effort to develop a common set of metrics for measuring wait times.

Before the 25% Challenge, none of the stakeholders could agree on how to measure transit times or record wait times. By developing a common set of metrics, the team could focus all its energy on making improvements that could be measured and quantified. The 25% Challenge clearly demonstrated that a solid public-private partnership can help accomplish what the government cannot achieve alone. Without the leadership and entrepreneurial energy that came directly from the private sector, it is highly unlikely that any meaningful improvements would have resulted.

In fact, long-serving career government officials never thought it would be possible to achieve any significant reduction without massive new government spending. One of the exciting lessons learned from the efforts in eastern Michigan to reduce transit times and move legitimate trade and passengers across the border more quickly is the unavoidable fact that our existing border operations are painfully inefficient. We have designed and operate our border crossings with little consideration of how to make the process faster and with little consideration for constantly improving our ability to move traffic more quickly.

Perhaps the most important lesson from eastern Michigan and the 25% Challenge is that we could, with very little direct investment and with full support of the private sector, make significant improvement at other border crossing points. Nearly all of the other U. S. ports of entry along the borders are plagued by long wait times and traffic congestion. The long lines and snarled traffic could be significantly reduced if we have the will and the wisdom to tap the creative energies of the private sector to help find and implement solutions.

What worked in Michigan would work at other places. (http://www. homelandsecurity. org/journal/Default. aspx copyright 20076) Michigan, Homeland Security reach agreement on secure license ID By Anne Holcomb | Special to the Kalamazoo … October 13, 2008, 5:15PM http://www. mlive. com/news/kalamazoo/index. ssf/2008/10/michigan_homeland_security_rea. html WASHINGTON — Michigan motorists can seek an enhanced driver’s license next year to comply with tougher security measures at U. S. border crossings, state and federal officials said Monday.

The Homeland Security Department and Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land said they reached an agreement on offering the new and more secure driver’s license that provides identity and citizenship information. “This innovative approach balances the need for customer convenience, economic stability and more secure borders,” Land said. Michigan’s agreement is similar to those reached with Washington State, Vermont, Arizona and New York. Land and DHS officials met in Detroit and signed an agreement and a business plan on the enhanced licenses. The state enhanced driver’s license will bolster security through advanced technology, and at the same time it will make travel faster and easier,” said Stewart Baker, DHS assistant secretary for policy. Under tighter, post-Sept. 11 security measures, the government has pushed for driver’s licenses that are as secure as a passport for the purpose of crossing the U. S. border. The enhanced license will fulfill requirements from the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, which requires all citizens of the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Bermuda, to have a passport to enter or depart the U. S. rom within the Western Hemisphere. Last January, the U. S. stopped allowing U. S. and Canadian citizens entering the country from simply declaring to immigration officers at border crossings that they are citizens. Beginning in June 2009, all travelers, including U. S. citizens, will need to produce a passport or approved secure document, including the enhanced driver’s license, to gain entry at U. S. land and sea ports. Kelly Chesney, a Land spokeswoman, said the Homeland Security Department had not yet determined whether the enhanced license could be used instead of a passport for air travel within the hemisphere.

State leaders had said the passport’s cost of about $100 and the amount of time it takes to receive one might discourage people from crossing the Michigan-Canada border, affecting commerce and tourism. Congress passed the “Real ID” law in 2005. States have until 2013 to develop and put it in place. It is designed to make it more difficult for a would-be terrorist to get a license. Michigan’s enhanced driver’s licenses will be designed to be consistent with the requirements of the “Real ID” law, Chesney said.

Some state leaders have called it too expensive and a threat to privacy because it would create a giant database of private information. Land said the enhanced driver’s license will be optional and available next spring. It only will be available to Michigan residents who also are U. S. citizens. The enhanced license is expected to cost more than a standard Michigan driver’s license, but under state law, the cost cannot exceed $50. Those who choose not to get an enhanced license would receive a standard license instead.

A standard license needs to be renewed every four years. Chesney said the department was hoping to maintain a similar four-year expiration schedule for the enhanced license. (By Anne Holcomb | Special to the Kalamazoo … October 13, 2008, 5:15PM) http://www. mlive. com/news/kalamazoo/index. ssf/2008/10/michigan_homeland_security_rea. html All borders are created equal. It may sound overly simplistic to point this out, but every day Americans who would never forget to bring proper documentation when traveling outside the country on a commercial airline light or cruise ship attempt to drive or walk from Canada or Mexico without making the same provisions. And starting on June 1, visiting some of our closest neighbors—including Bermuda and most Caribbean countries, as well as Canada and Mexico—will become much more complex with the implementation of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. In fact, if you haven’t applied for a passport yet, it may be time you give it serious thought. Not so friendly anymore After 9/11, all U. S. order entrances were tightened, leading to severe disruptions at certain crossings. Subsequently, over the last seven years there has been a severe drop-off in cross-border traffic, on both the Canadian and Mexican fronts. And congestion has gotten critical in many locations. This has probably had a greater impact on the northern side, on what was once termed “The Friendliest Border in the World,” since some may recall a more innocent era when you could cross back into certain states from Canada without even being stopped at times.

But statistics underscore a dramatic shift: In 2000 more than 90 million passengers in private vehicles crossed over from Canada; by 2007 that number had dropped to 58 million. Pedestrian traffic on the northern border also fell off, though not as dramatically. As for Mexico, 240 million people entered the U. S. by car in 2000, but by 2007 that figure had fallen to 165 million. However, pedestrian traffic increased from 47 million to 50 million during that seven-year span. Obviously there are specific issues related to immigration that differentiate the Mexican and Canadian borders.

But one factor remains the same, whether you’re in Maine or New Mexico: Border crossings by car and on foot—let alone by bus or train—are being treated much more seriously now, and regulations are tightening. A new era The new rules that kick in on June 1 will affect travel from 19 countries in all (see box at left), and many are nations that millions of Americans have been traveling to and from for years without carrying valid passports. But two months from now, new rules mandate that “most” U. S. itizens entering the country by land, sea, or air must establish both identity and citizenship and therefore must possess one of the following: • Passport • Passport card • Other travel document approved by the Department of Homeland Security Those “other travel documents” include Lawful Permanent Resident Cards; certain Native American tribe member cards; North American trusted traveler program cards, such as NEXUS (Northern Border program), SENTRI (Southern Border program), or FAST (Free and Secure Trade program); military ID with official travel orders; U.

S. Merchant Mariner Documents; or enhanced driver’s licenses (EDLs). Currently, four border states—Arizona, New York, Vermont, and Washington—have announced EDL programs, which issue driver’s licenses imbedded with security chips that will expedite crossings. As for passport cards, they’re a new initiative and are issued by the State Department. Each costs $45 for those over 16 and $35 for those under 16 (as opposed to $100 and $85, respectively, for a U. S. passport).

Although passport cards are valid for ten years for adults and five years for kids, they are not valid for international air travel. So passport cards will not prove to be much of a bargain for many Americans who are planning on vacationing outside the U. S. in coming years. Some friendly advice I recently spent some time watching those who work on one of our borders, and a few observations came to light. Please consider the following: • Treat all border crossings the same. The simple fact is that federal authorities do this, but many otherwise savvy travelers do not.

It doesn’t matter if you’re in an airport, a cruise terminal, your own car, or on a footbridge: If you’re leaving the United States, you’re leaving the United States. And if you don’t have the right documentation, you might encounter a real headache upon your return. • Check before you go. Determine what paperwork you’ll need BEFORE you travel. Don’t wait until you’re outside the U. S. , knocking to get back in. • Time and distance don’t matter. Again, if you step foot outside the U. S. , you’ve crossed over and getting back in has the potential to turn into a big deal.

This applies even if you’re just having lunch in Vancouver, taking photos in Tijuana, snorkeling in the British Virgin Islands, or shopping on the other side of Niagara Falls. • Compare the wait times. Border crossings are notorious for long queues. It’s a must for anyone traveling across a U. S. border to first check the CBP’s Border Wait Times page. For example, one day last week there was a 20-minute delay at Detroit’s Windsor Tunnel, yet a 40-minute delay at Detroit’s Ambassador Bridge.

At the same time, there was a 5-minute delay at Laredo’s Colombia Solidarity crossing but a much longer 30-minute delay at Laredo’s World Trade Bridge. Obviously such delay times can be much more significant based on dozens of factors, so it pays to know in advance. • Some paperwork can be better than none. Here’s another helpful hint: If for any reason you’ve applied for a passport and haven’t received it yet, visit this page on the U. S. State Department’s site. You can check on the status of your application online, and then print out the results and carry them with you.

Unofficially, I’ve been told that while it won’t replace a passport, this confirmation can go a long way toward easing an unpleasant situation at the border. • Don’t forget about the kids. Children have special requirements, and often need paperwork of their own. In addition, kids traveling without both parents and/or kids who have a different last name than their accompanying parent may be detained to prevent a custody violation or abduction. In certain circumstances, it makes sense to consult an attorney before taking a child out of the country. NEVER give attitude to federal employees. Whether they represent Customs and Border Protection, Immigration, Agriculture, or any of the other agencies you may encounter at a border crossing, these folks should command the same respect as when you’re trapped behind those heavy doors at an international airport’s arrivals hall. (And consider for a moment how angry you’d be if they allowed a terrorist into the United States through a “side door” such as Canada or Mexico. ) Attitude comes in many forms. It’s not just about rude remarks.

If you want to move painlessly through a border crossing, then remember this: • Keep your documents with you, not packed in a bag in the trunk or strapped onto the luggage rack. Would you tell a federal officer at an airport that your passport is locked in your bag and you don’t want to bother getting it out? • Turn off all electronic gear. Federal agents are trained to be suspicious of Improvised Explosive Devices, so that one extra cell phone call could ruin your afternoon. • Even if you’re on foot, remember that pedestrians are subject to the same rules as those arriving on a Boeing 747 or a 150,000-ton cruise ship.

Dive into the details The new rules contain a lot of caveats, so it makes sense to learn more about your specific status. Here are some key links to help you understand the current and pending regulations for traveling outside the United States: • The State Department site contains an overview of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. • The U. S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) site also provides key information. • The CBP’s Travel page provides details about the requirements for U. S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents traveling outside our borders. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) site also provides detailed information on its Crossing U. S. Borders page. • For those traveling into or out of Canada, information on that country’s regulations is available at the Canada Border Services Agency site. (USA Today (travel and blogs with Bill McGee Updated 3/25/2009 12:41 PM) The U. S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Air and Marine, or OAM, operates the highly capable and proven Predator B Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) in support of law enforcement and homeland security missions at the nation’s borders.

OAM selected the Predator B, manufactured by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, for its unique combination of operational capabilities, payload capacity, mission flexibility, potential to accommodate new sensor packages, and its safety and performance record with other federal agencies, including the Department of Defense. The CBP UAS program focuses operations on the CBP priority mission of anti-terrorism by helping to identify and intercept potential terrorists or illegal cross-border activity.

The system also supports disaster relief efforts of its Department of Homeland Security partners, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U. S. Coast Guard. The remotely piloted Predator B allows OAM personnel to safely conduct missions in areas that are difficult to access or otherwise considered too high-risk for manned aircraft or CBP ground personnel. OAM first employed the Predator B in support of law enforcement operations on the Southwest Border in 2005 and along the Northern Border in 2009.

OAM operates three Predator Bs from Libby Army Airfield in Sierra Vista, Ariz. and two more from Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota. Two maritime variant Predator Bs are schedule to be operational in 2010. UAS operations will continue to expand in 2009 and 2010. By 2015, OAM expects to employ the Predator B throughout the border regions with command and control from a network of UAS ground control stations across the country. The Predator B’s capability to assess critical infrastructure before and after events, in

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