In a move which some see as evidence of a step towards a North American Union – Canadian customs and U.S. border guards could work interchangeably in each others countries, as a result of a new border agreement between Canada and the U.S.
Canadian customs agents will be allowed to work in the U.S. and carry firearms screening passengers.
Canadian customs agents could soon work in the U.S. and carry firearms, and the U.S. border guards could do the same in Canada, as a result of a new border agreement between Canada and the U.S.
Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson have signed a customs pre-clearance agreement for rail, land and sea travel that was years in the making.
The arrangement would allow customs agents to work in each other’s countries, which means they could screen passengers away from the border and ease the choke points.
That process already exists in air travel at eight airports. People can clear U.S. customs in cities such as Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal and then, when they land, skip lines in U.S. airports.
The countries had signalled their intention to expand that arrangement to land and sea travel as part of the 2011 Beyond the Border deal between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Barack Obama.
But they missed a late-2012 deadline to reach a legal agreement that would let law-enforcement officials operate inside the neighbouring country.
A little more than two years later, they have finally reached that deal.
“This historic new agreement builds on decades of successful pre-clearance operations in Canadian airports,” Blaney said in a statement distributed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
“It will enhance the security at our border and create jobs and growth in Canada by improving the flow of legitimate goods and people between our two countries.”
Maryscott Greenwood of the Canadian American Business Council said the agreement will use modern technology to speed up things at the border.
“It’s dramatic, it’s historic, it’s a big day in Canada-U.S. relations,” she said.
The statement says the agreement applies to all modes of transport, which could include passenger vehicles.
It also says customs agents will be allowed to carry firearms in each other’s countries.