Canadian border ‘most likely entry point’ for terrorists, U.S. Congress hears | Ottawa Citizen


OTTAWA — Canada represents the greatest threat from terrorists trying to enter the United States, a top U.S. border agent told congressional lawmakers this week.

“As far as I am aware, all recent threat assessments have pointed to the northern border as the most likely point of entry into our country for terrorists,” Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, told a House of Representatives’ subcommittee on national security.

Judd, who represents more than 17,000 unionized Border Patrol agents, offered no specifics in his prepared statement to the committee, hearing testimony about reforming the agents’ pay system.

Still, he warned the panel that U.S. officials must not become complacent about the dangers that lurk along the border with Canada and “the ongoing threat … to the safety of the American public.”

“In the early to mid-1990s, San Diego and El Paso were ground zero for both illegal immigration and drug smuggling,” he said. “In response, the border patrol threw all of its resources at those two areas without also strengthening the other areas of the border.”

The thinking was that Arizona’s inhospitable climate and terrain would help deter other illegal traffic from Mexico. The presumption proved wrong. But Judd said the same misguided thinking now threatens U.S. security along its northern front.


Full story: Canadian border ‘most likely entry point’ for terrorists, U.S. Congress hears.

People smuggling to Canada from U.S. increasing | Calgary Herald

By Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press November 19, 2013

OTTAWA – Smugglers were caught trying to slip dramatically more people into Canada in 2011 over the previous year at largely unguarded points along the border with the United States, says a newly declassified report.

Authorities apprehended 487 people as smugglers attempted to sneak them into Canada at remote locales, up from 308 in 2010, says the binational report on border security.

At the same time, the number of people nabbed while being spirited into the United States from Canada fell slightly during the same period to 360 from 376.

The figures on smuggling between official ports of entry appear in the 2012 Integrated Border Enforcement Team threat assessment report, obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.

The report indicates that stronger enforcement may partly account for the increase in arrests, but adds there is concern that “a significant portion” is the result of “a surge in human smuggling activity.”


Full story: People smuggling to Canada from U.S. increasing, says binational threat report.

Canadian Muslim leaders worried U.S. speakers will spread ‘hate’ about Islam | Vancouver Sun

TORONTO – A Canadian Muslim organization is calling on Ottawa to spell out how it decides whether to allow controversial foreign speakers into the country ahead of a planned appearance by two conservative American bloggers.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims worries Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer will spread “hate and misinformation” about the Islamic faith when they speak at a Toronto-area hotel Tuesday evening, the group’s executive director said.

Though it disagrees with their message, the group isn’t seeking to have the pair turned away at the border, Ihsaan Gardee said. But it would like to know how, exactly, that decision is made.

“What we would like from the government of Canada is clear and consistent direction… when it comes to the eligibility of speakers to enter Canada,” he said.

“It needs to be consistent and clear because if it isn’t, then it sends a message that freedom of speech and hate (are) being arbitrarily measured.”

Canadian authorities have previously denied access to some polarizing figures, such as Terry Jones, the American pastor best known for burning copies of the Islamic holy text.

Geller and Spencer have sparked their share of outrage through their respective blogs, Atlas Shrugs and Jihad Watch. The pair also co-founded the group Stop the Islamization of America.

They were barred from entering the U.K. in June, a move they condemned as a blow against freedom of speech.

The Canada Border Services Agency wouldn’t say whether it would consider similar action, noting admissibility is determined “on a case-by-case basis.”

“Several factors are used in determining admissibility into Canada, including: involvement in criminal activity, in human rights violations, in organized crime, security, health or financial reasons,” spokeswoman Vanessa Barrasa said in an email.


Politicians, pot and problems at the border |

The recent outbreak of political frankness when it comes to past marijuana use, while refreshing, is not without consequences. Political leaders who made such admissions, including three provincial premiers, the leaders of two national parties and the mayors of Toronto and London, Ont., may find, as thousands of Canadians have, that honesty may not be the best policy when trying to gain entry to the U.S. If you’ve ever been arrested for cannabis possession, or even admitted to puffing pot, Uncle Sam does not want you.

There are more than 60 grounds of inadmissibility under the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act, including admitting to smoking marijuana, a crime of “moral turpitude,” says Thomas Schreiber, Chief Customs and Border Protection Officer at Blaine, Wash., in an email exchange with Maclean’s. He cites the relevant section: “any alien convicted of, or who admits having committed or who admits committing acts which constitute the essential elements of a violation of . . .any law or regulation of a State, the United States or a foreign country relating to a controlled substance . . . is inadmissible.”

That cuts quite a swath. Some 40 per cent of Canadians 15 or older admit to smoking marijuana in their lifetime, says a 2011 Health Canada survey. If a U.S. border agent asks any of those more than 10 million Canadians if they’ve ever used pot, and they answer honestly, they will be barred. Agents have no room for discretion, says Schreiber. “The law is very clear on matters of admissibility.”

Full story: Politicians, pot and problems at the border – Canada –

U.S. pushes for cross-border officers to be exempt from Canadian law: RCMP memo | The Globe and Mail

The United States wants its police officers to be exempt from Canadian law if they agree to take part in a highly touted cross-border policing initiative, says an internal RCMP memo.

The debate over whose laws would apply to U.S. officers working in Canada raises important questions of sovereignty and police accountability, says the briefing note prepared for RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson.

“Canadians would likely have serious concerns with cross-designated officers from the U.S. not being accountable for their actions in Canada.”

The planned pilot project — part of a sweeping Canada-U.S. perimeter security pact — would see the two countries build on joint border-policing efforts by creating integrated teams in areas such as intelligence and criminal investigations.

The perimeter deal, being phased in over several years, aims to ensure the safe, speedy passage of goods and people across the 49th parallel while bolstering North American defences.

Full story: U.S. pushes for cross-border officers to be exempt from Canadian law: RCMP memo – The Globe and Mail.

Latinos face trouble by calling 911 in border towns, group says | The Seattle Times

Latinos face trouble by calling 911 in border towns, group says | Local News | The Seattle Times.

A complaint filed this week with the Justice Department said many Latinos living in U.S. cities along the Canadian border have grown fearful of calling 911 because they know U.S. Border Patrol officers often respond with local police.

Many Latinos living in the northern border towns of Sumas, Blaine and Lynden have grown fearful of calling 911 in emergencies because they know that frequently U.S. Border Patrol officers who process those calls respond along with the local police.


That claim is contained in a civil-rights complaint a Whatcom County immigrant-advocacy group has filed against U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the three cities.


The complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Justice claims the agency and the cities together violate the civil rights of Latinos by subjecting them to racial profiling and discriminatory treatment no other group has to endure.

Full story.

The FBI is allowed to operate in Canada — RT USA

The FBI is allowed to operate in Canada — RT USA.

In the news: The foiling of what is alleged to be an attempted terrorist attack targeting a passenger train traveling from Toronto to New York is raising questions about the authority of United States officials to operate abroad.

Officers with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police announced earlier this week that the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and US Department of Homeland Security played an instrumental role in the apprehension of two foreign men suspected of plotting an attack against a Via Rail passenger train going from Toronto, Ontario to New York City.

“We are alleging that these two individuals took steps and conducted activities to initiate a terrorist attack,” Jennifer Strachan, criminal operations officer for RCMP Ontario, said during Monday’s press conference.

The suspects, 30-year-old Montreal, Quebec resident Chiheb Esseghaier and Raed Jaser, 35 of Toronto, are being held in Canada while authorities examine what a preliminary investigation has led them to consider thus far an al-Qaeda-supported terrorist attack. But as officials north of the border try to get to the bottom of the alleged plot, Canadians are also questioning the role of US authorities in the apprehension of the men.

via The FBI is allowed to operate in Canada — RT USA.

Federal budget cuts could hurt border agency’s fight against gun smuggling, MP says | Toronto Star

In the news: Federal budget cuts could hurt border agency’s fight against gun smuggling, MP says | Toronto Star.

OTTAWA—Front-line border officers are confiscating fewer guns than they did a decade ago and ongoing budget cuts could make it even harder to stem the tide of illegal firearms onto Toronto streets, a New Democrat MP says.

The Conservative government, which has made law-and-order the central plank of its agenda, is being pressed to do more to combat the smuggling of handguns to Canada from the United States.

“The proliferation is enormous . . . they’re used in crimes. They’re used by youth,” NDP MP Mike Sullivan said Friday.

Full story.

Reality show filmed immigration raids, B.C. advocates say – British Columbia – CBC News

In the news: Reality show filmed immigration raids, B.C. advocates say – British Columbia – CBC News.

Immigration activists in Vancouver are protesting the arrest of eight migrant workers who they say were picked up by border agents and filmed for a reality TV series during a raid on a construction site on Wednesday.

Construction worker Gord Beck says he was working on a condo complex at Victoria Drive and 20th Avenue when armed border agents arrived in black SUVs.

Beck says they stationed officers at corners to keep people from running, and swept the site, top to bottom looking for undocumented workers.

Full story

The US-Canada Border’s Constitution-Free Zone | The Nation

In the news: The US-Canada Border’s Constitution-Free Zone | The Nation February 7 2013

Before September 11, 2001, more than half the border crossings between the United States and Canada were left unguarded at night, with only rubber cones separating the two countries. Since then, that 4,000 mile “point of pride,” as Toronto’s Globe and Mail once dubbed it, has increasingly been replaced by a US homeland security lockdown, although it’s possible that, like Egyptian-American Abdallah Matthews, you haven’t noticed.

Full story