7 May

That’s a picture of a border crossing between Germany and Austria. Notice anything interesting? There are no border formalities. Within the EU’s Schengen Zone, border formalities have been, more or less, abolished. The traffic island in the picture is where the customs structure used to be.

On this continent, however, we are building barriers to the movement of goods and people between the US and Canada. Naturally, a Schengen environment is unlikely ever to take hold here because Canadian immigration policies are more lenient than those of the US.

However, do we really need to further impede the flow of traffic between Western New York and Southern Ontario?

By abandoning the shared border management proposal that was set forth in 2004, the Homeland Security Department is doing just that. Under the proposal, travelers crossing the Peace Bridge to the US would be screened by US personnel on the Canadian side of the border. One would think that it makes more sense to detain a potential dangerous person before he’s crossed the bridge and touched US soil. But the entire deal folded over Washington’s demand that any person who changed their mind and u-turned back to Canada be detained and fingerprinted.

Fingerprinted for changing one’s mind. Fingerprinted for taking the wrong exit. Fingerprinted for no reason whatsoever.

Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY 28) responds to this idiotic decision here.

The United States and Canada have had preclearance in place at Canadian airports for years. Homeland Security certainly could have looked to that as a model for shared border management. I believe these negotiations became a proxy for deeper grievances between the two countries over higher-profile border issues, primarily the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.

In that regard, Homeland Security is once again pursuing a badly flawed plan that will require all travelers returning from Canada to carry a $97 passport or a yet-to-be defined $45 passport card. The Government Accountability Office, a former 9/11 commissioner and several former ambassadors to Canada all agree that this plan is a disaster in the making. It will shut down our border to legitimate trade and travel, causing massive economic harm to Western New York.

The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative is Bushian Newspeak for “your passport, please.”

Jettisoning shared border management means a bigger US plaza in Front Park, and the condemnation of over 50 structures surrounding it. It will lead to idling vehicles on the US side of the river for no good reason except stubbornness.

Maybe in 2009.

6 Responses to “Shafted”

  1. peter scott May 7, 2007 at 11:53 am #

    the whole situation really is troubling…

    I still hold out hope that a Schengen-like situation could exist between the US and Canada…

    Canadian immigration policies may be more lenient…but its hard to say that the security screening process is not as stringent…and thats the real issue…

    an open Niagara border would trigger an economic explosion in WNY that no other change in economic policy locally or at the state or federal level could ever hope to bring…

  2. Robert Harding May 7, 2007 at 2:01 pm #

    Simply put, the reasons we put borders up is because we fear brown people. You don’t hear about building a fence along the Canadian border do you? It’s a ridiculous notion.

    I remember working for Home Depot down here in Fredonia and a Canadian who was on vacation passed through Fredonia and stopped to use the bathroom. He was checking out one of our power saws when he turned to me and said “If I bought this in Canada, it would cost $100-$200 more than what it costs here, depending on where I go.” He said he would’ve bought it on the spot, but he had his wife with him.

    I think instead of having tolls and customs at the borders, open the borders up. After all, anyone who blames 9/11 on “open borders” is an idiot. 9/11 happened because we didn’t have sufficient airport security.

  3. hank kaczmarek May 7, 2007 at 9:32 pm #

    Robert—In Europe, and in this zone, you can cross the border without inspection. But you DO have to carry your passport EVERYWHERE YOU GO.

    There’s been an awful big bunch of complaining here about getting passports.
    Every other country on the planet DOES insist that you carry it when you travel. In many cases, even inside your own country.

    Anyone been out on the River since 9/11? Mandatory Tatonka/Burke anecdote: I spent much of my childhood at and on the Niagara. Part of the “Riverside Experience” was tossing your inner tube off the International Bridge, jumping in after it, and floating down to the foot of Sheridan Dr, then roll the thing back home. Next Day you would swim from the “2nd Lighthouse” just below Riverside Park, buoy to buoy out to Strawberry Island.

    You turn 16, you get a boat. If you got your boat down too close to “the point of no return”, the Coast Guard might get on your ass, but other than that, nobody bothered you on the River, the Canal, the Lake, Ellicott Creek, wherever.

    Last year, at my friends house on E.River Rd on the Island,(just across from NiaWanda Park) I sat on his dock and watched: US Customs (ICE), Border Patrol, Erie County Sheriff, Homeland Security, State Police, and even local police boats like the freakin’ Gestapo inspecting boats.

    It’s just Joe Schmuckatelli and his buds from the plant/office out for a spin on the river, relaxing. But everyone’s breakin’ Balls. Then of course if you get near Canada, you have the RCMP, O.P.P, and Canadian Customs crackin’ on you, looking for everything from an empty beer can to a Dirty Nuclear Device.

    There’s plenty of Nanny State BS going around up there. After what I saw, I wouldn’t go through the trouble of owning a boat. You can’t travel more than a mile before some law enforcement agency wants to inspect you like a PBR on the freakin Mekong.

    Kill that “we fear Brown People” shit. This is SUPPOSED to be a nation of Laws. My ancestors, and most of the people who are reading this blog’s ancestors, took the chance of being sent back, and came here LEGALLY.

    If you broke the law to get here, is there any respect for any laws they encounter once they get here? What the hell for?

    Not with the hispanics with no license and insurance driving intoxicated, on the interstates, going the wrong way on divided 8 lane interstates because they can’t read the signs. We’ve had 4 in the last year kill a citizen and their family. Not only illegal, but 3 of the 4 had been deported before, came back, THEN committed mulitple counts of vehicular homicide.

    THOSE brown people everyone should fear.

    At an Immigration rally in Charlotte last week, one illegal said “We’re going to throw all of YOU out!!
    Sure hope you’re comfortable with that. Y’all come on down to Buffalo South, where there ARE some brown people, before you start that bull.

  4. peter scott May 8, 2007 at 8:34 am #

    I’d happily agree to passports a plenty if that meant we had an open border…

    its the closed border and the passports that makes no sense and will cause a serious hurtin

  5. Mike on Grand Island May 8, 2007 at 10:27 pm #

    Amen – open up…just remember to get that little sticker showing you paid your Austrian road fee…


  1. BuffaloPundit » Blog Archive » In Flanders fields the poppies blow - May 7, 2007

    […] Remember that post about shared border management and how the US federal government is screwing it up for Buffalo? Yeah, I posted it earlier today. […]

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