North American Perimeter Security and the Militarization of the Northern Border
By Dana Gabriel
With the release of a U.S. Congressional report that found only a small fraction of the border with Canada was being adequately monitored, there is now more focus being placed on the northern border. As a result of increased scrutiny, there are efforts to militarize and expand surveillance on the Canada-U.S. border. The new found attention is also attributed to a proposed trade and security perimeter agreement between the two countries which promotes a shared approach to border management.
A report released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in February of this year, found that a substantial portion of the northern border lacked any effective monitoring and surveillance. It concluded that only 32 of the 4,000-mile border was under operational control. The findings were largely based on failures to better coordinate border cooperation and information sharing among the various agencies. A Press Release by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security stated that according to the study, “the risk of terrorist activity across the northern border is higher than across the southern border because there are active Islamist extremist groups in Canada that are not in Mexico, it is easier to cross the northern border because it is twice as long as the southern border, and DHS has a fraction of the law enforcement officers and surveillance assets on the northern border than it has in the south.” It went on to say, “The border with Canada is also dotted with large population centers and criss-crossed by numerous highways and roads, making it harder to detect illegal activities amid the large volume of legitimate trade and travel between Canada and the U.S. that is so important to both countries.”