Beyond The Border Declaration
December 8th, 2011
U.S. Congresswoman Candice Miller (MI-10), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, commended President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper for their recent Beyond the Border Declaration – a joint agreement for enhancing cross-border security, travel and trade collaboration between Canada and the United States. Miller said: “This announcement on the cross-border strategy reached by President Obama and Prime Minister Harper is the best news we have had for the Blue Water Bridge during my time in Congress. As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, I have urged the Administration to put a stronger focus on changes to facilitate trade across our borders, lower wait times for those who cross the border and to make the needed infrastructure investments needed to achieve these goals. I am encouraged that the Administration and the Canadians have agreed to a deal that will accomplish all of these goals. I look forward to working with the Administration and our Canadian partners to provide the necessary oversight as we begin to implement these much needed changes to make certain that we achieve these important goals. “This cross-border plan focuses on programs that I believe will greatly improve our infrastructure and security needs. Particularly, the strategy calls for coordinating border infrastructure investments and identifies the Blue Water Bridge, our nation’s second busiest commercial border crossing on the Northern Border, as a priority which should free up the needed federal resources so that we can finally complete the long overdue Blue Water Bridge Plaza expansion project. “I intend to aggressively push for many of these key elements to be put in place as soon as possible so we can increase the control of our border while improving the overall traffic flow on a daily basis. I will continue to press the Administration to use the Blue Water Bridge as a testbed for many of the pilot programs being created by this plan. I think that the Blue Water Bridge offers a perfect artery to test out the pre-inspection and pre-clearance initiatives laid out in the agreement. I am very encouraged that President Obama singled out the automotive industry and the agriculture industry as the industries which were priorities in developing this plan, which again signals the priority placed on the Blue Water Bridge because of the great amount of trade in both those industries which cross the bridge every day. “Furthermore, I was especially pleased to see a proposal for increased information sharing for the entry and exit of our travelers. Under my leadership as Chairman of the Border and Maritime Security Subcommittee, the Committee has looked closely at the Visa Overstay problem; in fact visa overstays today represent nearly 40% of the illegal aliens in our nation. It is my hope that the additional information sharing outlined in this plan will contribute to a more robust Entry/Exit system as recommended by the 9/11 Commission which will help us better identify those who have violated the terms of their visa.” Background – On February 4, 2011, President Obama and Prime Minister Harper issued a Declaration of Principles to build upon partnerships between the United States and Canada for accelerating the legitimate flow of people, goods and services, as well as enhancing border security. Today’s agreement establishes an Action Plan to implement the February 4th Beyond the Border Declaration and will consist of: • Conducting joint integrated border threat assessments; • Promoting increased information sharing of law enforcement information; • Enhancing domain awareness in the air, land, and maritime environments; • Developing a harmonized approach to screening inbound cargo arriving from offshore to expedite the movement of secure cargo; • Mutual Recognition of Air Cargo Screening controls; • Increased sharing of entry data at land borders so that the entry information from one country could constitute the exit information from another; • Harmonizing Trusted Trader and Trusted Traveler Programs to conduct risk-based targeting; • The Action Plan identifies Sarnia, Ontario, as a priority location for facility enhancements to support trusted trade and traveler programs such as expanding NEXUS lanes and booths; • Coordinating border infrastructure investments. The plan identifies the Blue Water Bridge as a priority for infrastructure improvements; • The Action Plan includes pilot programs, such as deploying Radio Frequency Identification technology to the Ambassador Bridge, the Blue Water Bridge, and the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel, to facilitate secure passage and expedite processing; • The Action Plan includes further developing and promoting integrated cross-border law enforcement operations, including routinely deploying integrated Shiprider Teams with US Coast Guard and Royal Canadian Mounted Police personnel.