The idea of building a fence along the U.S.-Canada border has been officially ditched.
Instead, the United States’ new Northern Border Strategy looks to rely on more virtual eyes in the sky, boots on the ground and greater integration with Canadian law enforcement.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano released Tuesday the new blueprint, the first department-wide strategy for American policy and operations at the northern border.
The 20-page document foresees a far more fluid border — at least as far as law enforcement personnel and border guards go.
It says the U.S. will continue to rely on the “strategic deployment of technology” — radars, sensors, cameras posted on poles between ports of entry, drones in the sky, and vehicle scanners — as a “force multiplier” to deter and prevent terrorism and illicit activity on the border.
It flags “the next generation of integrated cross-border law enforcement,” such as a planned permanent extension of the joint vessel patrol pilot program — known as Shiprider — in shared waterways; the planned introduction of similar joint land operations; and efforts underway to eventually share biometric information collected through each country’s immigration visa application system.
It says the two countries must achieve the “interoperability” of Canadian and American border law enforcement agencies.
It calls for more intelligence and information sharing, and reveals the Department of Homeland Security has deployed a senior liaison officer to Canada’s immigration and citizenship (CIC) department who is providing “technical support” as Canada begins “collecting biometrics from temporary resident visa applicants in 2013.”
“This will ensure the interoperability of U.S. and Canadian biometric repositories in the event of future data sharing,” the document says, adding Canada’s immigration department is exploring how to use U.S. facilities abroad “to collect biometrics from visa applicants who are U.S.-based temporary residents.”
The border perimeter deal signed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama set the biometric data-sharing project in motion. The Canadian 2012 budget implementation act will authorize the collection abroad of biometric data from foreigners wanting to visit Canada, starting with high-risk areas...