Skip to comments.Security Strict at U.S. Borders with Mexico, Canada
Posted on 03/19/2003 7:30:32 PM PST by hope
Wed Mar 19, 3:34 PM ET
By Deborah Tedford
LAREDO, Texas (Reuters) - U.S. Homeland Security guards searched for radioactive material at the border with Mexico and inspected trucks arriving in the United States from Canada on Wednesday, stepping up security as war with Iraq (news - web sites) looms.
Pedestrians crossing north at a border point between Mexico and Laredo, Texas, had bags searched and travel documents scrutinized more carefully than before.
"We have increased our examination of all modes of traffic at the international bridges," said Rick Pauza, Homeland Security spokesman in Laredo. "We are increasing the inspections of passports, documents and cargo manifests and making use of all the technology at our disposal," he told Reuters.
Witnesses said inspectors bearing electronic devices to detect radioactivity scanned every vehicle passing north at Laredo.
Delays on the 5,500-mile U.S. border with Canada, the world's longest undefended border, were not widespread.
But a Canadian Customs Internet site listed a waiting period of up to two hours for trucks heading to the United States across the Ambassador Bridge, which links the U.S. auto center of Detroit with Windsor, Ontario, also a major manufacturing center.
The web site said auto traffic was normal and reported no delays at numerous other points along the frontier.
The border with Mexico stretches for 2,000 miles of desert and mountains. It is traversed illegally every year by tens of thousands of Mexicans seeking work in the United States.
The security crackdown worried the many Mexicans in Nuevo Laredo who work and even attend school across the border in Texan sister city Laredo.
"The two Laredos are like one city," said Melva Lavin Ayala, spokeswoman for the city of Nuevo Laredo. "People usually get up at 7 a.m. to make a 15-minute trip that is now a one-hour trip. It is going to take time to adjust," said Lavin.
Every day at the Laredo crossing, more than 10,000 trailer-trucks ferry raw materials to assembly plants in Mexico and bring back finished products for sale in the United States.
Homeland Security spokesman Pauza denied rumors in Mexico that the Laredo bridges would be shut if war broke out. Other bridges along the border were closed briefly after the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States.
U.S. trade with Canada and Mexico has boomed in the past decade under the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, between the three nations.
The United States raised its security alert to Code Orange -- the second-highest level possible -- on Monday as war with Iraq became more likely,
In Ottawa, Finance Minister John Manley, who is responsible for ties with the United States, has reassured Canadians that fast-track programs to speed border crossings had not been suspended during the latest U.S. security alert.
"We're cooperating (with U.S. authorities) to make sure border delays don't increase," Manley said on Tuesday.
In an effort to increase security at the more formal commercial crossings and not interfer with commercial flow, the Boarder Patrol has pulled many agents off normal "patrols". This means the guys in the SUVs are now back at the office checking trucks.
Apparenlty word is spreading in Mexico that the boarder is now open and the rush is on for emmigration.
Our boarders may be wide open for foot immigration for at least several weeks. A cool aid stand near the boarder may be big business as the masses rush to migrate north.
That is a fact of life all along the border.
Gore did not carry the border county I live in. In the past election only one democrat carried the county, and that was only by 50 votes.
On the other hand, 36 Cubans just flew in and landed at Key West Airport not three hours ago.
That's right, they just flew in and landed. And bear in mind, Key West is a major Coast Guard/Navy base. I am daily overflown by F/A-18 Hornets and, today, a couple of CH-47 Sea Chinooks (at least they looked like Chinooks to me) on my way to work. On a good day, I get to see the real Tops Guns -- elderly F-14 Tomcats out stretching their legs in the Caribbean sun (the Tom is an ancient plane, at least by Lockheed "Raptor" standards. She's also far more beautiful, more capable, and more deadly, than the pissant "Super" Hornets who have been tasked to replace her).
Yet the first "warning" we enjoyed was when these 36 Cubans trundled off their passenger plane and started shouting, "Viva America!!" Surprise, y'all -- the Cubans are here. Did somebody forget to check the flight manifest? Happens all the freakin' time.
Thank God they were refugees. Thank God (for their sakes) they escaped Cuba, hit the airfield with "dry feet", and are therefore now US Citizens.
I like the Cubans. They're more American than most Americans, once they make it here.
But, technically, if we see them coming, we're obliged to turn them away before they get here. We're not supposed to find out about their unscheduled joy rides when they tramp out on the tarmac singing, "God bless America, and brother can you spare a Cervesa!!"
Pardon me if I remain unimpressed with US Border Security. I rather think that 50,000 or so US Troops could make a big impression along our undefended Borders. God knows we could spare to bring them home from so-called overseas "allies" in defense of whom we spend billions of dollars, and who don't appreciate us anyway.
There are several groups along the worst parts of the border that are trying to help, but the U.S. government isn't one of them. They are Ranch Rescue (Texas, AZ, NM, Calif.), American Border Patrol (Sierra Vista, AZ), and Civil Homeland Defense (Tombstone, AZ). Expect nothing out of D.C. at all, no matter how much we are threatened by foreign forces. Votes seem to be more important to them than the lives and property of Americans. We have some of the most despicable pinheads in the beltway now than ever before in recent history, IMO.
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