Extra Security at Borders

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Extra Security at Borders


September 24, 2001

The United States has sharply intensified inspections and anti-terrorist surveillance along its Canadian and Mexican borders, reshaping the face of two of the most open international frontiers maybe for years to come.

More inspectors on more overtime are asking more questions at the overland border stations, said U.S. Customs spokesman Jum Mitchie. They are opening more trunks and peering at cars more often with imaging equipment.

More agents are taking to the air also, Mitchie said. They patrol the vast stretches of forest, desert and waterway along more than 6,000 miles of border shared by the United States with its two neighbors.

Waits up to 15 hours have been reported at border crossings. However, waiting times have shrunk in recent days, as the government dispatched extra inspectors to areas with the worst congestion, and travelers changed their routines to avoid the busiest times and crossings.

Some Americans favor even more inspectors and stricter screening to snag terrorists before they strike.

Todd Spencer, an executive for a Missouri-based truckers' group known as the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, said he has long felt too many people cross from Canada with questionable papers.

"If it takes longer to do the job, then we're going to live with it," he said.

On a typical day, more than 1 million passengers in 350,000 private vehicles, along with 30,000 commercial trucks, rumble past more than 150 established U.S. border sites with Canada and Mexico, according to Customs data.

The three nations have been dropping travel and commercial barriers over the years to forge the world's biggest free-trade zone.

But within an hour of the Sept. 11 attacks, U.S. authorities went on their highest alert at both the Canadian and Mexican borders. Since then, travelers and truckers have been answering many more questions and enduring more cold stares. Some returning Americans have been asked to show picture identification at places where it is not ordinarily needed.

At some crossings, virtually every truck and car was being inspected, often with greater care and sometimes with X-ray or fiber-optic viewing equipment. At Champlain, N.Y., rest rooms were closed for security reasons.

The strengthened border watch has snared some people, but not the most wanted so far. Bolstering security at U.S. request, Mexican authorities rounded up 48 migrants from the Middle East without proper papers. Most appeared to be Chaldean Christians from Iraq, who often seek asylum in America.

Customs officials said the heightened security will last indefinitely.

Copyright 2001, Newsday, Inc.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), September 24, 2001


Thanks for the article Martin

They aren't stopping the terrorists but holding up commercial and regular traffic. It is impossible to patrol the 4000 mile border between the U.S. and Canada. Its just causing an extreme burden on commerce and if ANYBODY thinks its doing any good they are delusional. I guarantee that if I wanted to, I could sneak into Canada without passing through a checkpoint. So, what good is it doing?

-- Guy Daley (guydaley1@netzero.net), September 24, 2001.

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