Posted by: edshannon | August 15, 2007

Common Sense Border Security

In a conversation with a former, junior soldier, I gleaned a bit of ‘common sense’ that I wish our politicians had. With his unrefined grammar and street slang idioms, he described to me how he was trained to “secure” a building.

He described something like this. Two squads; one to seal the perimeter, the other to storm and search the building must coordinate to make a building safe. The squad that takes the house goes room-to-room flushing out the enemy, while the other squad would seized anyone who came out. 

If he’d been a little older, you’d thought it was just an old man rambling. He went on to say, “I know I’m just an old country boy sir, but seems to me to make this country safe, we need to flush out the enemy and secure the borders from terrorist?”

He’s got a pretty good point there. Sure, we’ve got some so imbedded that we won’t find them easily, if ever. And we’d take a lot of heat from the civil rights groups. Aside from that, I couldn’t find any other holes in his premise.

Unfortunately, when we talk about “illegal immigrants” most people think about Mexican border crossings. They are not the only illegals we have in this country. All the flap we hear about securing the border is focusing primarily on the southern border. Perhaps we need to step back and take a more simple, more ‘common sense’ approach.

Recently Bill O’Riley chided a guest on his show. His guest was articulating the porous nature of our northern border and Bill simply dismissed the “3 or 4 Canadians who might be crossing the border.” Completely dismissing the idea that our northern border is in more need of protecting than our southern border with Mexico.

Consider, if you will, that the U.S.- Canada border is 4,000 miles long. Some of the most remote and rugged terrain on earth with on only 1,000 border patrol agents to secure it. Compare that to less than 2,000 miles of Mexican border secured with 10,000 agents and 6,000 National Guard troops.

The northern border agents work in shifts, around-the-clock. That means that at any one time, on an average day, fewer than 300 agents are on duty on the world’s longest border between two neighboring countries. If they were spaced out evenly, there would be one agent every 13 miles.

All the focus on the southern border is not only divisive, therefore counterproductive, it also fails to consider another ‘common sense’ premise: ask any ship engineer, especially with a steam plant, and ask him what happens when and old pipe springs a leak. If you patch rather than replace the whole pipe, you make an old pipe strong in one area, which will reveal–shortly sometimes–where the other weak spots are. Yep, that strong patch will force steam to look for another way out. All of a sudden you have two leaks maybe three or more…

In a 1999 House subcommittee report on Law Enforcement Problems at the Border Between the United States and Canada: Drug Smuggling, Illegal Immigration and Terrorism, the following was noted:

“It may surprise many people to learn that Mexican nationals can enter Canada without visas, so it is often cheaper for them to fly to Canada and walk across the northern border than to have smugglers bring them across the southern border.” Almost a decade later, we still don’t have passport requirements from the north.

The report went on to say, “The number of Asian nationals being smuggled into the U.S. also is

increasing. Regarding third country nationals, Canadians themselves make up the fourth largest group of illegal aliens in the U.S.

One of the most dangerous threats to our national security is the risk of a terrorist crossing our northern border undetected. This happened in 1997 when Gazi Ibrahim Abu Mezer crossed the northern border and attempted to blow up the New York subway system. In this case, the terrorist was caught before the crime was carried out. Next time, we may not be so fortunate. Since 1995, there have been at least 13 other cases of terrorists crossing the border from Canada, two in Blaine, Washington alone.

In 1998, the Director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service acknowledged the presence of 50 terrorist organizations in Canada and outlined their activities: fund-raising in aid of terrorism, smuggling, providing logistical support for terrorist acts and providing transit to and from the United States, ”one of the world’s pre-eminent terrorist targets.”

Drug smugglers, terrorists and illegal aliens travel both ways across the border. Canadians as well as Americans will benefit from better border security. The United States and Canada already have engaged in cooperative efforts to combat illegal alien smuggling and to share intelligence information regarding drug smugglers and terrorists.”

Also noteworthy, there is a least one Indian reservation that borders with Canada that makes smuggling a cinch, and then of course there is Vermont, already a weakness, with their liberal attitude about life, who has a growing group who want to secede from the union which would open them up to all kinds of possibilities. The report also had this to note about smuggling: “The Northern Border is a favored transit point for aliens from the Asia, particularly China. Canada’s asylum law permits persons to enter Canada, claim asylum and be free while their cases are processed. Some of them attempt entry to their real destination—the United States. Chinese nationals typically board Canada bound airliners with fraudulent passports or other travel documents. Upon arrival, the aliens then claim to be refugees and are released by the Canadian authorities pending a hearing. Groups of Chinese then travel to large cities such as Vancouver, Toronto or Montreal, where they are staged for the smuggling attempt into the United States. Other nationalities typically follow this format, with variations, dependant on applicable Canadian law. For example, some nationalities need only a passport and no visa to enter Canada. The most active entry points are through Swanton Sector in Northern New York and Vermont, Blaine Sector in Washington State, and Buffalo Sector in Western New York.”

To be sure much as been done in the past decade, but it has been too little, too late. To bring us up to date on the issue, a few observations from the Law Enforcement community: Serious security problems at Canada’s border crossings

1,600 vehicles blew by ports last year and failed to report to Customs, more than 3,000 entered Canada illegally via just 2 of more than 200 unguarded roads. Not to mention the 1500 miles of international border in the Great Lakes which boats freely go past customs all day long, and offer covert passage in the winter when they are frozen over.

Common sense? Not as simple as securing a building, none-the-less the principle is worth considering.

Nifty(“div.genericSCorner”,”top”);

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