In recent years, plenty of attention has been dedicated to the southern border separating the United States and Mexico. The buzz surrounding the issue may be due to the problems that have emerged as a result of the border, including unskilled labor, illegal immigration and the Mexican drug trade.
These elements have become part of popular culture. They are the focus of various television shows, like Narcos, and movies, like Cartel Land. Even the Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, has proposed the idea of building a wall along the southern border as one of his major platform positions.
There is a lot of clamor advocating on behalf of stricter immigration laws and border control, especially now that the media has turned its attention to the less-discussed threat up north.
The Canadian border is almost three times as long as the southern border. It includes stretches of land as far and remote as Alaska and provides many more opportunities for illegal crossing than its southern counterpart. It is protected by a mere 2,000 Border Patrol agents, which is sparse protection when compared to the southern border’s 18,000. The Canadian border has much less protection in both manpower and technology.
Some may argue that this is justified because of the larger amount of criminals that pass between Mexico and the United States. Last year, for example, Border Patrol agents made 300 apprehensions along the Canadian border. Along the southern border, an astonishing 300,000 were apprehended.
Similarly, Border Patrol seized 700 pounds of marijuana and cocaine up north, compared to 1.6 million pounds along the heavily surveilled border with Mexico.
Officials say that it is hard to tell how much criminal activity occurs along the Canadian border because the agents lack fundamental resources.
The area along the Canadian border is a perfect spot for both drug smugglers and human traffickers. The area is sparsely populated and dense with woods that serve as a cover from Border Patrol agents, cameras, sensors and other equipment provided by the Department of Homeland Security, which is meant to substitute for the lack of agents. Even worse, the focus on the southern border makes the Canadian border, with its much weaker protective measures, more vulnerable to potential criminal or terrorist activity.
Near Detroit, Border Patrol agents said that they had arrested people in a smuggling ring operated by Piotr Lisiecki, a Polish citizen who overstayed his visa. In January, Border Patrol agents arrested Cedrik Bourgault-Morin, who was pulling a 182-pound duffel bag at night along the border of North Troy, Vermont. The bag contained 300 bags of Xanax, an anti-anxiety drug, which has an estimated street value of $1.6 million. In 2007, employees from the Government Accountability Office crossed from Canada into the United States carrying a material that was meant to look radioactive as a test of U.S. border control.
The employees never ran into any problems with law enforcement. People manage to cross the border without being apprehended because Border Patrol does not have enough men to stand guard.
Recently, cameras along the Canadian border showed four men dressed in camouflage illegally crossing into the United States with weapons. The men were never caught by agents.
These are just a few of the many examples of criminal activity that are blatantly present at the Canadian border that receive little attention. Patrol agents on the northern border are simply unequipped to handle these breaches, which may put every citizen at risk.
Unfortunately, the tunnel vision surrounding the southern border and its criminal activity has handicapped the ability of the United States to handle problems that arise along the Canadian border. U.S. citizens cannot continue to focus on one issue as the source of all of their problems or use the southern border as a convenient scapegoat. It is also highly problematic to simply assume that most criminal activity derives at the foot of the southern border. Citizens and authority figures alike have to distribute their attention and resources to this issue in a reasonable manner.