By Dana Gabriel
The U.S. and Canada are very close to unveiling a North American perimeter security deal that would promote greater integration between both countries. This includes expanding collaboration in areas of law enforcement and intelligence sharing which could dramatically affect sovereignty and privacy rights. While there is a need for more public scrutiny, incrementalism has been used to advance North American integration. In many ways this has kept the agenda under the radar. Much like NAFTA and the Security and Prosperity Partnership, a U.S.-Canada perimeter security agreement would represent another step in the consolidation of North America.
During his speech at a recent meeting of northern border states, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told participants that the U.S. and Canada are set to launch a pilot project next year which will allow law enforcement officers to operate on both sides of the border. Holder explained that, “the creation of ‘NextGen’ teams of cross-designated officers would allow us to more effectively identify, assess, and interdict persons and organizations involved in transnational crime.” He went on to say, “In conjunction with the other provisions included in the Beyond the Border Initiative, such a move would enhance our cross-border efforts and advance our information-sharing abilities.” The declaration, Beyond the Border: Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness issued by President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper last February, identified joint law enforcement operations and information sharing as a high priority. There are already examples of what we could expect from a security perimeter as some Canadians have been denied entry into the U.S. after their records of mental illness were shared with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.