Border Security Hearing Highlights Challenges, Opportunities Along Northern Border

WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, underscored the complex security challenges and economic opportunities along the U.S. northern border. During today’s committee hearing, “Securing the Border: Understanding Threats and Strategies for the Northern Border,” officials testified about the complexities posed by the expansive border, which serves as an economic engine for international trade, but can be susceptible to transnational criminal activity, including drug and human trafficking.

The U.S. northern border with Canada expands across 5,500 miles. According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), about 300,000 people and over $2 billion in trade cross the U.S.-Canadian border every day.

“Today’s hearing was an important opportunity to examine security along our northern border with Canada, and was a reminder that border security is a team sport. Our partnership with Canada is an economic powerhouse. As a result, our focus in addressing the issues along our northern border cannot solely be on security, but also on maintaining and enhancing our economic competitiveness. We need to modernize our ports of entry and expand trusted trade and travel programs that can enhance security even as we facilitate trade. Strategic investments in technology such as aerial surveillance, radar, underground sensors and cameras on mobile towers can serve as valuable force multipliers for the brave men and women who secure our border. It’s critical that we continue to mitigate the risks and expand the opportunities along the Canadian border, while working closely with our neighbors in Canada to ensure our shared security and prosperity.”

In February 2011, President Obama and Prime Minister Harper issued the “Beyond the Border” strategy to enhance the flow of commerce while improving security along the border. In joint testimony, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Chief Michael Fisher and Deputy Assistant Commissioner John Wagner emphasized the increased coordination between the United States and Canada to tackle challenges along the border.

“Northern border security efforts are enhanced through special joint operations and task forces. These operations are conducted under the auspices of multi-agency enforcement teams, composed of representatives from Canadian and U.S. federal law enforcement agencies who work together with state, local, and provincial enforcement agencies to target transnational criminal activity, including investigations involving national security and organized crime.”

The officials also emphasized the beneficial economic impacts of commerce and trade along the northern border.

“The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) in 2014 reported goods and services imports from Canada as $383 billion,” their joint testimony continued. “The U.S. BEA further reported the combined two-way goods and services trade between the United States and Canada as $759 billion, or more than two billion dollars a day. The United States and Canada are each other’s largest export market, with roughly 16 percent of all U.S. goods exports destined to Canada. CBP is committed to a coordinated approach to facilitate the secure flow of trade and travel, reduce transaction costs, and promote economic growth on the Northern border”