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Congresswoman Elise Stefanik

Representing the 21st District of New York

Border breakthrough: Plan would ease transit between Canada and United States

March 19, 2015
In The News

Canadian and U.S. officials are working to pass legislation in both countries to offer a preclearance process and reduce wait times for travelers at border-crossing areas.

Canadian Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Steven Blaney and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson recently signed an agreement that would allow security agents from each nation to establish checkpoints on the other’s soil. They would conduct immigration, customs and agricultural inspections for people planning to cross the border by air, boat, land and rail. Preclearance of these individuals could reduce the time for others to cross the border.

Any measure that would uphold the security of each nation while making border crossing a faster process is worthwhile. The plan would need to be approved by both the Canadian Parliament and U.S. Congress.

“This landmark agreement is welcome news for our north country community,” U.S. Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, R-Willsboro, said in a statement supporting the proposal. “In addition to helping increase efficiency along our northern border, this agreement will help increase trade with our Canadian neighbors. This is good for our north country economy and for hard-working north country families.”

“Garry Douglas, president of the North Country Chamber of Commerce, said in a prepared statement that the agreement announced Monday is welcome news for the organization that has pushed for the preclearance of New York-bound Amtrak passengers from Montreal, who frequently encounter long waits at the Champlain border crossing,” according to a story Tuesday in the Watertown Daily Times. “In addition to preclearance for Amtrak passengers, Mr. Douglas said in his statement that the agreement will allow officers from both sides of the border to ‘co-staff’ and operate small, rural crossings, jointly clearing traffic in both directions. This would save resources for both countries while securing the future of the many small crossings in the north country which, while being low-volume crossings, ‘represent important connections between rural communities,’ Mr. Douglas said. He said the pact also creates the possibility of the Canada Border Services Agency locating operations at the crossing between Massena and Cornwall, Ontario, ‘enhancing flow at this important north country gateway.’”

It’s in everyone’s interest to conduct inspections at the border that effectively maintain our security. At the same time, streamlining the process is vital to ensuring that travel between the two nations for commerce and tourism is less of a problem.

This agreement is a positive step toward that goal. It’s good that Ms. Stefanik supports this plan, and residents should encourage her along with U.S. Sens. Kirsten E. Gillibrand and Charles E. Schumer to pursue its passage.