Saturday, February 16, 2013

Open The Border

Over the past decade the United States government has been making coming into and out of this country harder. So much harder that I have found coming home from Canada is sometimes harder than leaving America going over to Canada for a weekend. The US-Canadian border is the longest shared border between any two countries in the world. It stretches across oceans (in Alaska, Washington, and Maine), cities divided (in Washington, Michigan, New York, and Vermont), buildings such as the Haskell Free Library and Opera House, making it one of the most unique borders in the world given its history and what lies across it. People's houses can stand in two countries at the same time across this continent. Most of the border is undefended and without fences. In some places there are roads that lie on the border. With this very lax security there are other places, like travelling by ferry or plane between the United States and Canada where travelers need to go through American customs twice when entering. In some places, like St. Regis, Quebec the border is completely open due to an old treaty with the Iroquois nation that allows people to move back and forth freely, and with no customs there is no way to know if the person crossing the border is Iroquois or not, and non-tribal members can and frequently do enter the reservation. Also, to keep the border secure ferry and air passengers go through American customs twice to come back to America. In other words, the border security between the US and Canada is spotty, and doomed to be ineffective.

To think that such a long border could possibly be secured, or even might need to be secured, given the relationship and history between our nations, and the treaty we have signed with the Iroquois to allow them to cross the border freely in their reservation seems ludicrous to me. It seems like a waste of money because no matter how much you spend to defend it there will always be a way around it. Any attempt to block smuggling is futile, because it is so easy to cross the border.

Because of these facts, I propose a different solution, open the border. How far? All the way. Eliminate customs on the American/Canadian border to save some money and increase trade between our two countries. There is no benefit to us by attempting to secure such a border and it is undefended at some points. It doesn't take a lot of research to learn this and despite the attempt to appear secure at places like  the Victoria ferry terminal, it is in fact about as defended against illicit trade as the German/Polish border, the only people who are actually inconvenienced are the honest ones.

We should do this soon. The only major concern I can see is drug policy, but the border customs are not effective for controlling drug control anyways. The best policy for drugs is that if you are caught with an illicit drug in America you will be arrested or fined. With guns the best policy would be that if caught with a handgun or other illicit weapon will be arrested or fined. We should arrange a treaty with Canada that if someone is arrested in either one of our nations we will respect their laws and let them hold the other nation's citizen for the legal amount of time and respect all other fines and punishments for breaking each other's laws.

With tourism into the United States and Canada, we will need to synchronize our policies and set up a commission of the United States Department of State and Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs so that before any policy is adopted the United States and Canadian governments need to agree. We will need to synchronize the countries that can enter our countries visa-free, and which ones will need a visa-on-arrival. Fortunately, the United States and Canada have extremely similar visa requirements, the only differences are regarding people from the Czech Republic, Papua New Guinea, Croatia, Samoa, Pitcairn Islands, Barbados, Falkland Islands, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Hong Kong, Gibraltar, and Vatican City. I don't see any difficulty in getting over this hurdle, if the American and Canadian governments cooperate. We can then make a process for entering our new union, that can be agreed on by both governments, with the following proposed tenants with my reasons for having them:
  1. A machine readable or biometric passport. This is to make them harder to forge and make a strong electronic record of what passports have entered to prevent forgeries.
  2. A return or onward ticket if entering by air. This is to make it easier so the government will know if you have overstayed your planned time.
  3. Must not have committed a crime that would be considered a felony in the United States or Canada. There will be a way for people to rehabilitate after a certain amount of years for some crimes like drunk driving (a felony in Canada).
Canada and the United States will continue to have full sovereignty, their own currencies, their own governments, and their own traditions. The only thing I think should change is the amount of control on the borders, which is something that can be done.

No comments:

Post a Comment