Report: US, Canada Disagree on Border Screening
by Mickey McCarter
Friday, 05 September 2008
Initiative failed due to Canadian laws that limit CBP authority A shared border management project along the US northern border between the United States and Canada collapsed in April 2007 because US and Canadian authorities could not reach an agreement on US law enforcement powers in the deal, according to an analysis by congressional investigators released Thursday.The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) ended a pilot initiative launched in December 2004 to speed travelers across Buffalo port of entry at the Peace Bridge while increasing security at the border crossing. The preclearance of people crossing from Canada to the United States would have enabled visitors and shippers to travel more quickly by clearing them at US facilities on the Canadian side of the border. The two nations could not come to acceptable terms as to how officers of US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) would operate on Canadian soil, however.Issues upon which the governments could not agree included the authority of CBP to make arrests, the right of travelers in Canada to withdraw their petitions to enter the United States, fingerprinting processes, the sharing of information collected by CBP, and the need for reasonable cause for searches of personal vehicles under Canadian law, according to a report by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO).The inspiration to move CBP screening facilities across the border into Canada sprung partly from the small size of the CBP inspection site at the Peace Bridge. At 17 acres, the inspection facility is much smaller than a proposed 70-acre facility that CBP might have operated on the other side of the border.Under this scenario, only Canadian forces would have the right to make arrests, which concerned US officials who wanted to be able to detain dangerous terrorists or criminals discovered at the border, GAO found. Canadian law also permits individual travelers to withdraw their request to enter another country, which did not sit well with US officials who wanted to fingerprint individuals despite whether or not they actually entered the country. In addition, Canadian officials only wanted fingerprinting to occur at all if individuals volunteered or were guilty of a crime.Canadian law also would have prohibited CBP from sharing any information it discovered while operating in Canada with other US law enforcement agencies. The Canadian Charter also could have limited CBP searches of individuals and their vehicles without "reasonable grounds," GAO reported.