Saturday, October 29, 2011

U.S. border czar pitches ‘thinner’ border for low-risk traffic

On the eve of a perimeter security deal between Ottawa and Washington, the top U.S. customs official is championing the idea of a “thinner” border for low-risk traffic as he seeks to reassure Canadians he understands what they want from the controversial agreement.

Alan Bersin, the commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, says he wants to make it easier for legitimate travellers and cargo to enter the United States so both countries can focus on high-risk traffic instead.

He said under the deal Canada and the U.S. would exchange information on risky travellers and cargo, but not on all traffic. “It’s not to willy-nilly share data that would violate notions of privacy and civil liberties … but to share alerts and alarms that are being raised,” he said.

The U.S. border czar was in Ottawa on Monday as the clock ticks down on an announcement of the “action plan” for the Canada-U.S. perimeter deal to ease trade and travel between the two countries after a decade of thickening security measures.