Maclean’s Luiza Ch. Savage Interviews U.S. DHS Secretary
Maclean’s Washington D.C. correspondent Luiza Ch. Savage interviewed U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson.
The interview covers topics ranging from ISIS, Canada-U.S. border security, to the Detroit River International Crossing. Here are three Q&As particularly relevant to the ongoing Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC) and Beyond the Border (BtB) Action Plan.
Q: After your department was created in the wake of 9/11, there was a lot of concern in Canada that this was a department focused on security, and it was dealing with our border and trade relationship. Do you see the economy in any way as a part of your mandate?
A: Part of my mission is promoting lawful trade and travel. Commerce between our two countries passes through ports of entry that are regulated by my department. It’s not simply securing our borders. After 9/11 there was an attitude here to pull the drawbridges up, but we’ve come a long way from that. I think the Beyond the Border initiative has a lot to do with it.
Q: One of the aspects of Beyond the Border is work toward pre-clearance at the land border.
A: Right. I’m a big fan of pre-clearance. We are working toward a pre-clearance agreement with Canada that I think will be unprecedented, where we will have pre-clearance capability at airports, rail stations, land ports of entry. That will be a big deal. [Canadian Public Safety] Minister [Steven] Blaney and I are working toward entering into such an agreement sometime later this year.
Q: Republican Sen. John McCain recently referred to the Canadian border as “porous” and expressed concern that terrorists could come over that border.
A: I would not characterize our border as porous. I would characterize it this way: we’ve put an unprecedented amount of resources on border security by way of people, technology, equipment, vehicles, aircraft, boats. Overall, apprehensions, which are an indicator of total attempts to cross the border, have gone down considerably over our entire border, and the population of undocumented immigrants has stopped growing for the first time since the 1970s.
Missed BtB Deadline on Exchange of Cross-Border Traveler Information
Maclean’s also carried a Canadian Press report on a missed BtB deadline. The deadline was related to Canada and the United States sharing traveler information of all cross-border travelers in order to enhance border security.
From yesterday’s report.
“The Beyond the Border action plan is on track. Are we exactly where we wished to be? Not exactly, but we are moving in the right direction,” [stated Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney Wednesday].
The public safety minister is downplaying the Conservative government’s failure to introduce a system to track the travel of potential terrorists, despite a deadline in a security pact with the United States that passed more than three months ago.
The 2011 Canada-U.S. perimeter security agreement, known as Beyond the Border, included a provision that would see Canada collect records on people leaving the country on international flights. The measure is designed to track potential terrorists who leave the country to join overseas conflicts.
The agreement set a deadline of June 30 of this year, but such a system is not yet in place, nor are the legislative and regulatory changes that would be required first.
Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney insisted Wednesday that Canada remains committed to tracking and sharing information about international travel with the United States, though he suggested the security pact was merely a road map rather than a firm timeline.