Skip to comments.U.S. Opens 1st Northern Border Air Patrol Station
Posted on 08/21/2004 6:38:22 PM PDT by Valin
BELLINGHAM, Wash. (Reuters) - The U.S. government is stepping up efforts to patrol its porous northern border with Canada by using helicopters, airplanes and boats to monitor illegal immigration and drug traffic, officials said on Friday. The first of five planned facilities, the Air and Marine Branch, has begun operations 80 miles north of Seattle, with the aim of "maximizing" security with Canada, a country known for its friendly ties with the United States.
Similar patrols already operate extensively along the southern border with Mexico, where thousands of illegal immigrants from Mexico and Central America pass through into the United States each day.
"The initiative at the Northern border is aimed at shutting down narcotics and human smuggling routes and networks that operate along the U.S.-Canada border," the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement service said in a statement.
Those traveling between the United States and Canada on major roadways pass though immigration checkpoints along the border, but travel between the countries in rural areas is mostly unmonitored.
The Northwestern border has been the scene of some high-profile arrests in recent years, both before and after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Ahmed Ressam, also known as the "Millennium Bomber," was arrested in December 1999 trying to enter the United States from Canada in a car packed with explosives that he had planned to detonate at Los Angeles International Airport.
Pro-Taliban Muslims in Oregon also were implicated in smuggling people into the United States from Canada, where they were dropped off in fields near the border to be picked up on the U.S. side.
The Bellingham operation will be staffed by 69 federal law enforcement officers, pilots and crew under the auspices of immigration authorities. Two helicopters, a single-engine turbo-prop aircraft and two boats will be deployed.
A second Northern Border Branch will be opened in Plattsburgh, New York, later this year, officials said, with the remaining three operations in Montana, North Dakota, and Michigan.
In April, Canada pledged to recruit more spies, increase port safety measures and expel bogus refugees as part of a new national security policy designed to prevent attacks by militants at home and in the United States.
© Reuters 2004. All Rights Reserved.
This is a good move. I hope and expect, however, that we'll see many more unmanned drones, like the Predator, flying on both borders. I have generally been unhappy with our border efforts. I suspect GWB has reassessed this threat and is quietly beefing up border efforts.
I'd say, bout time.
Works for me.
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