The Department of Homeland Security’s first agency-wide strategy for the northern border has been released, and it emphasizes security while taking care to promote legal trade and travel, according to Rep. Bill Owens.
The strategy aims to make the northern border between the United States and Canada more secure while expediting the movement of lawful people and goods.
The Department’s Northern Border Strategy draws from legislation introduced by Owens and signed into law by President Obama in January 2011, and from the Beyond the Border Action Plan, which Owens testified on before the House Budget Committee in March.
The NBS is primarily focused on preventing terrorism and illegal behavior while encouraging the lawful and efficient flow of trade and travel. The strategy recognizes the importance of supporting programs like the Border Enforcement Security Task Force. The BEST team in Massena partners with federal, state, local and foreign law enforcement to disrupt and dismantle criminal organizations that pose a threat to the border.
The NBS also builds on initiatives included in the Beyond the Border Action Plan, which the U.S. and Canadian governments released in December. On May 31, 2012, the two governments announced air cargo security improvements whereby the two countries will mutually recognize each other’s air cargo security programs.
“I am happy to see the Department of Homeland Security moving towards a more practical approach to the U.S.-Canada border,” said Owens. “Recognizing the thirteen border crossings in the North Country support nearly 20,000 jobs in the region, I look forward to working with both the U.S. and Canadian governments to continue improving cross-border trade and working to grow the economy in the surrounding border communities.”
According to the Department of Homeland Security, more than $27 billion of goods were imported and exported by air between Canada and the United States in 2010.
A report on the strategy is at http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/policy/dhs-northern-border-strategy.pdf.
Following is a fact sheet on the Northern Border Strategy from the Department of Homeland Security:
2012 DHS Northern Border Strategy
The U.S.-Canada border is the longest common border in the world, and it joins two nations that enjoy one of the world’s strongest relationships. The border presents unique security challenges based on geography, weather, and the immense volume of trade and travel. At more than 5,500 miles, the border spans diverse terrains and climates, metropolitan areas and vast unpopulated space. Roughly 300,000 people and $1.5 billion in trade cross the northern border every day, representing the largest bilateral trade relationship in the world. With communities and businesses that reach both sides of the border, the economies and security of the United States and Canada are inextricably linked.
• The DHS Northern Border Strategy (NBS) is the first unified strategy to guide the Department’s policies and operations along the U.S.-Canada border.
• DHS’ strategy for the Northern border is built on the premise that security and lawful trade and travel are mutually reinforcing. Separating higher-risk traffic from lower-risk traffic, utilizing advance information, and inspecting people and goods bound for our shared borders at the earliest opportunity enables officials on both sides to expedite the processing of lawful travel and trade while preventing illegal crossings and activities, as well as diseases and dangerous goods from entering either country.
• The NBS outlines three goals for DHS at the northern border:
1) Deter and prevent terrorism and other illegal activity;
2) Safeguard and facilitate the secure flow of lawful trade and travel; and
3) Ensure community resilience to natural and man-made disasters.
• To accomplish these goals, DHS will leverage resources to improve information sharing and analysis within DHS, as well as with key partners. The Department will also enhance coordination of U.S.-Canada joint interdictions and investigations, deploy technologies to aid joint security efforts along the border, and continue to update infrastructure to facilitate travel and trade.
• As outlined in the strategy, DHS will continue to work closely with federal, state, local, tribal, private sector, and Canadian partners that are so critical to the security, resiliency, and management of our Northern border. The NBS is consistent with the vision articulated by President Obama and Prime Minister Harper in Beyond the Border: A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness.