Dana Gabriel, Contributor
The U.S. and Canada have made significant progress in advancing the Beyond the Border deal and continue to implement various perimeter security initiatives. Without much fanfare, they have signed an immigration agreement that would allow them to share biographic and at a later date, biometric information. As part of a North American security perimeter, both countries are further harmonizing border security and immigration measures.
Canada is further taking on U.S. security priorities and this could include a bigger role in the war on terrorism.
It’s been over a year since Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Barack Obama announced the Beyond the Border and the Regulatory Cooperation Council action plans. On December 14, 2012, the U.S. and Canada issued the Beyond the Border implementation report that highlights the objectives that were achieved over the past year and the work that has yet to be done. It explained that moving forward, “Key future initiatives include harmonizing our trusted trader programs, making significant infrastructure investments at our key land border crossings, fully implementing an entry/exit program at the land border, expanding preclearance operations to the land, rail, and marine domains.” The report also acknowledged challenges facing the Next-Generation pilot project which would permit teams of cross-designated officers to operate on both sides of the border. It was originally scheduled to begin last summer. While steady progress has been made, a lot more work is needed to meet the goals of the Beyond the Border action plan. Over the next several years, other aspects of the deal will be phased-in incrementally with specific deliverables due this year, in 2014 and also in 2015.
Another important facet of the economic and security perimeter agreement is the U.S.-Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC). A progress report to the leaders outlines accomplishments made in aligning regulations in the areas of agriculture and food, transportation, the environment, health and personal care products, workplace chemicals, as well as nanotechnology. This includes cooperation on pilot projects, scientific and technical collaborations and harmonized testing procedures. RCC working groups have developed detailed work plans for the various initiatives with objectives that will be implemented over the next couple of years. In Canada, some fear that deepening regulatory integration with the U.S. could weaken and erode any independent regulatory capacity. This could lead to a race to the bottom with respect to regulatory standards.
In December of last year, the U.S. and Canada signed the Immigration Information Sharing Treaty which is tied to the Beyond the Border deal. Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney stated that the, “agreement builds on our countries’ mutual efforts to protect our common borders and the surrounding perimeter, through improved screening of immigrants and visitors.” He went on to say, “Enhanced information sharing of foreign nationals will protect the safety and security of Canadians by helping us prevent terrorists, violent criminals, and others, who pose a risk, from entering Canada or the United States.” Under the treaty, Canada and the U.S. will share biographic information from third country nationals who apply for a visa, a travel permit or claim asylum. In 2014, it will also include the sharing of biometric information. There are privacy concerns on how far-reaching the data collected will be shared. This threatens the sovereignty of Canada with regards to retaining control over information at its own borders.
On December 28, 2012, President Obama signed into law, the Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act which is designed to curb Iran’s presence and activity in the region. The bill calls on the Department of Homeland Security to work with Canada and Mexico, “to address resources, technology, and infrastructure to create a secure United States border and strengthen the ability of the United States and its allies to prevent operatives from Iran, the IRGC, its Qods Force, Hezbollah, or any other terrorist organization from entering the United States.” Julie Carmichael, spokeswoman for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews discussed Canada’s efforts to counter any perceived hostility from Iran in the Americas. She is quoted in the Globe and Mail as saying, “We continually assess threats while co-operating with international partners, including the U.S., to address threats to our common security.” Carmichael added, “The Beyond the Border Action Plan as announced by Prime Minister Harper and President Obama provides a framework to identify threats before they reach North America.” Under the perimeter security deal, Canada is further aligning itself with U.S. foreign policy interests and could be expected to play a greater role in the global war on terror.
Through the Beyond the Border agreement, the U.S. and Canada are deepening economic and security integration which is laying the foundation for a North American security perimeter. Both countries are also engaged in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations with Mexico and other member nations. This is part of efforts to create a free trade area of the Asia-Pacific and could be used to update and expand NAFTA. Another key priority for U.S.-Canada relations is North America’s energy future. President Obama is expected to make a final decision on the Keystone XL pipeline sometime this year. Meanwhile, there is growing environmental opposition to the proposed project which would carry oil from western Canada to the Texas gulf coast.
Related articles by Dana Gabriel:
Merging U.S.-Canada Arctic Foreign Policy
U.S.-Canada Integrated Cybersecurity Agenda
Shaping the Future of North American Integration
Taking the U.S.-Canada Partnership to the Next Level
Dana Gabriel is an activist and independent researcher. He writes about trade, globalization, sovereignty, security, as well as other issues. Contact: [email protected] Visit his blog at Be Your Own Leader
So, what happens if Hillary Clinton doesn’t run in 2016?
It is hard to imagine the presidential field without a woman contender, and here’s one to keep your eye on: Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. Napolitano is quietly making it known that she is considering the race, and there is reason to take her seriously.
Before coming to Washington, Napolitano was a highly regarded and very popular governor in Arizona, a state not known as a hospitable one for Democrats.
In 2005, Time Magazine named her one of the nation’s five best governors, noting: “Positioning herself as a no-nonsense, pro-business centrist, she has worked outside party lines since coming to office in January 2003 to re-energize a state that, under her predecessors, was marked by recession and scandal.”
While in Arizona, she was criticized for not being aggressive enough in dealing with the influx of illegal immigrants. But her more recent job gives her an opportunity to change that image.
This week, for instance, finds her on a high-profile tour of the southwest border, where she will highlight the stepped-up resources that the Obama administration has been devoting to reducing the flow of illegal entrants to this country.
David Jackson11:36a.m. EST February 4, 2013
Today, gun control — tomorrow, immigration.
President Obama will seek to build support for another ambitious agenda item — a major immigration bill — on Tuesday when he meets with labor and business leaders at the White House.
Monday, Obama is visiting Minneapolis to discuss his plan to battle gun violence.
“Tomorrow, the president will hold meetings at the White House with labor leaders and progressive leaders, as well as a number of CEOs from across industries, to discuss his commitment to getting a bipartisan bill passed in 2013, and how immigration reform fits within his broader agenda for economic growth and competitiveness,” a White House statement said.
February 4, 2013
Not long ago, I passed a roadside sign in New Mexico which read: “Es una frontera, no una barrera / It’s a border, not a barrier.” This got me thinking about the nature of the international boundary line separating the US from Mexico. The sign’s message seemed accurate, but what exactly did it mean?
On 2 February 1848, a ‘Treaty of Peace, Friendship, Limits and Settlement’ was signed at Guadalupe Hidalgo, thus terminating the Mexican-American War. The conflict was ostensibly about securing the boundary of the recently-annexed state of Texas, but it was clear from the outset that US President Polk’s ambition was territorial expansion. As consequences of the Treaty, Mexico gained peace and $15 million, but eventually lost one-half of its territory; the US achieved the largest land grab in its history through a war that many (including Ulysses S. Grant) regarded as dishonorable.
In recent years, I’ve traveled the entire length of the 2,000-mile US-Mexico border many times, on both sides. There are so many unexpected and inspiring places! Mutual interdependence has always been the hallmark of cross-border communities. Border people are staunchly independent and composed of many cultures with mixed loyalties. They get along perfectly well with people on the other side, but remain distrustful of far-distant national capitals. The border states are among the fastest-growing regions in both countries — places of economic dynamism, teeming contradiction, and vibrant political and cultural change.
February 4, 2013
Department of Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano is traveling to the Southwest border this week to “inspect border security operations,” the department announced.
The secretary will visit San Diego, Calif., on Monday and El Paso, Texas, on Tuesday to meet with locals and discuss the “on-going efforts to secure the border while facilitating lawful travel and trade.”
Her visit comes a week after President Barack Obama and a bipartisan group of senators unveiled separate immigration reform proposals. The senators’ proposal says border security must be beefed up in unspecified ways before any of the nation’s estimated 11 million illegal immigrants would be allowed to apply for permanent legal status.
February 4, 2013
Under a bipartisan Senate framework, Democrats say, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano would have final say over whether the border is secure enough to put 11 million illegal immigrants on a path to citizenship.
If Napolitano does not provide the green light for putting illegal immigrants on a pathway to citizenship, the responsibility for judging whether the metrics for border security have been met will be given to her successor.
The early debate over immigration reform has yielded two thorny questions: What metrics will be used to determine whether the goals for border security and other safeguards against illegal immigration have been met? Who will decide whether the metrics have been achieved?
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