The United States, in the middle of a very public spat with its northern neighbor over tariffs, has announced a plan to protect the U.S. from Canadian threats.
The two nations have been at peace for generations, and the International Peace Garden on the border with North Dakota commemorates the longest unmilitarized international boundary in the world.
But the two nations have been exchanging petty charges for several weeks since President Trump raised the issue of the tariffs Canada charges American goods moving north and the lack of America tariffs on goods moving south.
That’s been one of the key sore points for the president, who already has made it clear international trade agreements won’t survive unless America gets, as he says, a fair deal.
His response to existing Canadian tariffs was to propose tariffs on steel and aluminum going into Canada, which triggered Canadian Prime Minister Justice Trudeau to lash out angrily at the president, warning him that Canadians will not be pushed around.
On Tuesday, the Hill reported Trump was taking Canada to task again.
He accused Canadians of crossing the border with the U.S. to buy products and “smuggle” them back into their country because their tariffs are so high.
Now, the Department of Homeland Security has released a report called “Department of Homeland Security Northern Border Strategy.”
The Federation of American Scientists describes it as the DHS moving “to protect U.S. against threats from Canada.”
“With exquisitely strange timing, the Department of Homeland Security today unveiled a ‘Northern Border Strategy’ to protect the United States against threats originating in Canada,” commented Steven Aftergood. “The new Trump administration strategy acknowledges that ‘the Northern Border remains an area of limited threat in comparison to the U.S. Southern Border.'”
But it says “the Northern Border is not without safety, security, and resiliency challenges.”
The report cites drug trafficking, as well as “homegrown violent extremists in Canada who are not included in the U.S. government’s consolidated terrorist watch list and could therefore enter the United States legally.”
The report addresses the need for commerce, travel, tourism and more but also includes “a clear vision and discrete actions that will collectively improve DHS’s efforts to safeguard the Northern Border against terrorist and criminal threats.”
“The international border between the United States and Canada separates two friendly nations with a long history of social, cultural, and economic ties. At 5,525 miles – 1,500 of which are shared by Alaska with British Columbia and the Yukon Territory in Canada – the border is the longest land boundary between two countries in the world,” DHS said.
That means each portion presents its own detection and interdiction issues.
“The Northern border is not without safety, security, and resiliency challenges. The most common threat to U.S. public safety along the Northern Border continues to be the bi-directional flow of illicit drugs,” the report said.
Individuals who pose a national security risk, the report explains, could enter through “the long stretches of difficult terrain between ports of entry.
While Canada has been effective as a partner against terrorism in North America, there are “homegrown violent extremists” who are not even on a watch list, it warns.
Some of the goals now are to exchange timely and actionable information and intelligence on cross-border terrorism and illicit activities with federal, state, local, tribal and international partners.
“DHS does not, and cannot, secure the Northern Border without the information and intelligence support of other federal, state, local, tribal, and international partners,” the report said. “A common understanding of information and intelligence … enables a holistic and proactive enforcement posture.”
There are sensor networks that monitor air, maritime and land domain activities, and this should continue, it said.
While the drones, ground sensors and fixed towers are helpful, “DHS must improve its process for identifying surveillance ‘blind spots,'” the report continued.
It also seeks to facilitate and guard lawful trade and travel.
“DHS improves cross-border facilitation of travel by leveraging collaborative partnerships with Canada and the U.S. interagency to identify, detect, and interdict high-risk individuals.”