A new Canada-U.S. border deal that was just unveiled today, will now enable customs agents to travel freely back-and-forth between the two countries when conducting their investigatory duties. The new deal will apply to rail, land, and sea travel, and the pre-clearance agreement has been signed by Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney and Homeland Security Secretary Jef Johnson. Under the new agreement, customs agents will be able to screen passengers away from the border, carry a weapon and pursue a suspect into the other country, and more.
The countries have been promising to work toward a deal like this for some time now, they signaled their intention to expand to various travel methods back in 2011 with the Beyond the Border deal. This plan is labeled as a vision for “perimeter security and economic competitiveness.” One of the promises made is that the plan is designed to help the “flow of people” between the two countries. The new plan makes the promise of making travel more efficient for “legitimate travelers” but what it really reads like is a power-play with more empty promises. Anyone who has traveled in the last few years has seen first-hand the increase in tedious and invasive screening procedures, so much to the point that it has dampened the enjoyment that people used to have while traveling. Even the employees and agents who work at the airport and other security terminals are miserable, a survey conducted not long ago back in 2013 found that only 3% of YVR employees reported that they worked in a positive atmosphere. Customs and Immigration Union local president Dan Robinson has himself described the British Columbia Vancouver airport as “one of the unhappiest places on Earth.” They aren't the only ones either, the dissatisfaction spreads nation-wide.
When it comes to making travel more efficient (improving the flow), there are already travel methods and programs in place (NEXUS) for citizens to travel more seamlessly through the border. This pass is a tremendous benefit to those who need to cross between the two countries quite frequently. Individuals holding a pass for this program are hardly ever faced with wait-times like the rest, who are regular travelers without such distinction. This is a genuine method of addressing the wait-times associated with travel, in an effort to help make it quicker for people to cross, whereas the new plan doesn't quite demonstrate how (if at all) it is going to address this need. However, in exchange for shorter wait-times and in order to qualify for this program you will need to subject yourself to investigation and provide a retinal scan, finger prints, and more. The reality remains that peaceful people need to have their rights first violated, and they need to first be treated like criminals, in order to get through the harassment and investigation quickly so that they can go on about their day. Also, even though someone has a Nexus pass, they can still be brought-in and randomly selected for questioning, this can and will often dramatically increase travel time for those who are selected, and the time that it takes in order to pass through onto the other side of the invisible line. There is no guaranteed method for anyone currently, whether you are innocent or not, to travel seamlessly (aside from the luxury of elite private flying for one). It isn't quite clear how giving border agents more powers, is going to help improve anything for travelers.
This isn't the first time that authorities have tried something like this, in trying to broaden their powers for immigration purposes, they previously implemented this cross-over jurisdiction with their Shiprider program for sea travel. Of course this joint-venture is a part of a much larger plan, as evidence by the recent CNN article calling for a “North American Passport” which we previously covered. Clearly, they are working in the direction of building a North American Union and moving toward further globalization. To be clear, this new proposal will not in any way construct open borders for travelers. There will still be the same rigorous screening processes in place, in order to sift through and find those “legitimate travelers” to let them proceed.
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