WASHINGTON – Two key US Senators sounded the alarm on Tuesday over the US-Canada border, citing an official report that warns just 32 of its undefended 4,000-mile stretch have “an acceptable level of security.”
Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, an independent, and the panel’s top Republican, Senator Susan Collins, called for toughening security to thwart any terrorists, as well as smuggling of narcotics or people.
“The American people are grossly under-protected along our northern border. We have got to work together with our neighbors in Canada to raise our guard,” Lieberman said in a statement.
The two lawmakers unveiled a formal report by the US Congress’s investigative arm, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), that said the US Border Patrol “reported that 32 of the nearly 4,000 northern border miles in fiscal year 2010 had reached an acceptable level of security.”
The GAO report also said that only about 1,007 of the roughly 4,000 border miles had reached “full situational awareness” — where “the probability of detection is high” when it comes to potential transnational crime.
“The numbers speak for themselves. These findings should sound a loud alarm to the Department of Homeland Security, the Canadian government and our committee,” said Lieberman.
“We should at the very least be able to detect all illegal entries from Canada into the US so we can get this information into the hands of law enforcement agencies that are well situated to make the necessary arrests,” said the lawmaker.
US border efforts typically focus on the divide between the United States and Mexico, notably to interdict undocumented immigrants, halt the flow of narcotics, and contain deadly violence from the illegal drug trade.
Department of Homeland Security figures show that, in 2009, the number of arrests of undocumented immigrants along the northern border were about 1.3 percent of those along the southwest border, while drug seizures along the northern border were about 1.6 percent of those seized in the south.