#07OTTAWA2058 #cablegate THE U.S. – CANADA BORDER IN 2007: GROUND TRUTH AND POLICY IMPLICATIONS (PART III OF III…) 07OTTAWA2058

Viewing cable 07OTTAWA2058, THE U.S. – CANADA BORDER IN 2007: GROUND TRUTH AND POLICY IMPLICATIONS (PART III OF III – IMMIGRATION, FIRST NATIONS, WHTI, AND LAW ENFORCEMENT)

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07OTTAWA2058 2007-11-08 18:12 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Ottawa
VZCZCXRO0720
RR RUEHGA RUEHHA RUEHQU RUEHVC
DE RUEHOT #2048/01 3112037
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 072037Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY OTTAWA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6866
INFO RUCNCAN/ALL CANADIAN POSTS COLLECTIVE
RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO 1768
RHFJUSC/BUREAU OF CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION WASHDC
RHMFIUU/CDR NORAD PETERSON AFB CO
RUEKJCS/CJCS WASHDC
RULSJGA/COMDT COGARD WASHDC
RUEAHLC/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHDC
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
RHMFIUU/HQ USNORTHCOM
RUEAIAO/HQ ICE IAO WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC WASHINGTON DC
 
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 OTTAWA 002058

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL KCRM PGOV ASEC KHLS ECON CASC CA
SUBJECT: THE U.S. – CANADA BORDER IN 2007: GROUND TRUTH AND
POLICY IMPLICATIONS (PART III OF III – IMMIGRATION, FIRST
NATIONS, WHTI, AND LAW ENFORCEMENT)

SUMMARY
——-
SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED–PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY.

1. (SBU) As part of a year-long effort to “map the border,”
Mission Canada officers visited the frontier to observe
ground truth in how the border functions and how to make it
work better. Part I of this three-part series reviewed
conclusions and recommendations, Part II covered ports of
entry, trade, and the environment. This third part reviews
immigration models, First Nations issues, WHTI, and law
enforcement.

IMMIGRATION AND MULTICULTURALISM
——————————–

2. (SBU) Canada has taken in over one million immigrants
since September 2001, about 200,000 per year, and now its
population has the second highest proportion of immigrants in
the world at 17%, surpassed only by Australia at 21%. The
forecast in 2008 is 265,000 new immigrants. Before 1960
Canada’s immigrants came from Europe, but changing economic
and demographic trends have resulted in an influx of East and
South Asians since the 1980s. India, China, and the
Philippines are the three most important source countries for
new immigrants to Canada. Immigrants in Canada settle
primarily in large cities, with over 46% of Toronto’s
population now being foreign born, followed by Vancouver
(37.5%), Montreal (28%), and Ottawa (17%).

3. (SBU) Canadian officials point out that there are multiple
checkpoints along the road to immigration and a solid system
for reviewing the names and background of immigrants along
the way. In Mission Canada’s judgment, Canada’s system for
immigration security checks approaches that of the U.S.
(Comment: However, although its focus is on all travelers to
Canada and not immigrants in particular, the October 30,
2007, report by the Auditor General on the Canada Border
Services Agency points up the need for better use by CBSA of
risk-based processes (including collection and analysis of
intelligence) and improved procedures for creating and using
lookouts. End comment.)

4. (SBU) In December 2004, Canada and the U.S. implemented a
“Safe Third” agreement as part of the Smart Border Action
Plan. Safe Third guidelines prevent refugee applicants from
applying for refugee status in more than one country or
“asylum shopping,” i.e., not looking primarily for protection
from persecution but rather for the country with high
acceptance rates and the most generous resettlement
arrangements. This agreement was the first of its kind for
Canada, and still represents the only safe third agreement in
force here. Currently it affects only those refugees who
apply for asylum at a land border port of entry, and not
those who fly from U.S. airports into Canada or make asylum
claims at inland offices. Since the implementation of this
agreement, Canada has seen a one-third drop in refugee
applications.

WHTI – GENERAL
————–

5. (SBU) When Congress passed the December 2004 Intelligence
Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, few people focused on
the details of the text, including the provision requiring
Qthe details of the text, including the provision requiring
that all travelers entering or re-entering the United States
would eventually be required to present a passport or other
secure, accepted document when applying for admission.
(Currently, NEXUS, FAST, SENTRY, active duty military and
merchant mariner’s IDs are accepted alternatives.) The
administration has implemented this requirement through the
Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), requiring air
travelers to have a passport beginning January 23, 2007, to
be followed at a later date by those entering the U.S. by
land or sea (to include ferries).

6. (SBU) The WHTI passport requirement was not well received
in Canada. Many perceived it as an unfriendly gesture toward

OTTAWA 00002058 002 OF 004

a country that is not only America’s largest trading partner,
but which has proven itself a steadfast and loyal ally in
both war and peace. Because of the unique U.S.-Canada
relationship, many of our northern neighbors thought there
should be special circumstances for Canadians. The
Government of Canada, Canadian parliamentarians and
provincial government officials made entreaties across the
board, asking essentially for Canadian citizens to be
exempted from the passport rule. The Border Caucus and many
individual Members of Parliament, as well as Canadian tourist
and travel associations, submitted comments on the notice of
proposed rulemaking requiring passports.

7. (SBU) The consistent message of Mission Canada, from
Ottawa to Halifax to Vancouver, has been that Canadians, like
American citizens, need to get a passport. There are no
exemptions for Canadians any more than there are for
Americans.

FIRST NATIONS SEEK WHTI EXCEPTION
———————————
8. (SBU) We have heard concerns from both Native Americans
and “First Nations” (the Canadian equivalent of our Native
Americans, referring to Indians, but not to Inuit (our
Eskimos) or Metis (persons of mixed Caucasian, mainly French,
and Indian origin) communities about the impact of WHTI. The
concerns are both practical (costs and bureaucracy) and
ideological: Canadian First Nations’ members perceive
themselves to be “people of the land” with a sovereign and
inherent right to traverse the border, without a need to
employ a document attesting to citizenship. First Nations
interlocutors frequently reference the Jay Treaty of 1794
between the UK and USA, which they assert provides the right
of “free passage” back and forth across the frontier.

9. (SBU) In fact, the Jay Treaty was abrogated when
hostilities commenced between the United States and United
Kingdom in 1812. Nevertheless, elements of that Treaty have
been incorporated into U.S. law; e.g., Section 289 of the
Immigration and Nationality Act which provides that “Nothing
in this title shall be construed to affect the right of
American Indians born in Canada to pass the borders of the
United States, but such right shall extend only to persons
who possess at least 50 per centum of blood of the American
Indian race.” (No equivalent exists in Canadian law.)

10. (SBU) Thus, American law allows for “free passage” across
the border, but the law does not exempt individuals from
documentary requirements; compliance with the documentary
requirements of WHTI is necessary. Some First Nations groups
have inquired whether the Canadian government’s “Status
Indian Card” would provide sufficient documentary proof.
Canada has some 770,500 Registered Indians on the Indian
Register maintained by the Ministry of Indian and Northern
Affairs. Individuals on the Indian Register are entitled to
Status Indian Cards (AKA Treaty Cards) verifying their
eligibility for various social services, health care, and
duty-free privileges. Ottawa is nearly ready to produce a
Qduty-free privileges. Ottawa is nearly ready to produce a
more secure new generation of Status Indian Card. Canada
intends to submit the new card to the Department of Homeland
Security (DHS) for consideration as an “alternative document”
that would meet WHTI requirements. DHS has indicated that it
will take a look at the new Status Indian Card. Several
First Nations groups have expressed interest in producing
their own ID cards for border crossing purposes. From a
border management perspective, a standard, secure, uniform
Status Indian Card is clearly preferable to a plethora of
cards issued by individual First Nations’ authorities.

WHTI – AIR
———-

11. (SBU) The passport requirement went into effect on
January 23 for air travelers. Prior to that time, Mission
Canada engaged in a concerted outreach and public information
campaign to ensure that both Canadians and Americans resident
in Canada were aware of the new regulation. Air travel from
Canada to the U.S. was not disrupted on January 23 because of

OTTAWA 00002058 003 OF 004

the passport requirement. An estimated 97 percent of
travelers were in possession of passports when they arrived
at the check-in desk. By January 26, an estimated 99 percent
of travelers were in compliance.

12. (SBU) One reason that implementation of the WHTI air rule
went so smoothly was Mission Canada’s proactive approach in
getting the message out. Another factor was CBP’s phased-in
transition of the requirement, which provided that CBP would
not fine carriers that boarded U.S.-bound passengers who did
not have passports (but did have other legitimate documents
attesting to identity and citizenship). Officers at all
posts in Mission Canada worked with CBP preclearance officers
at Canadian airports to inform the carriers of this liberal
phased-in approach. Many of the air carrier station managers
in Canada, particularly at smaller interior airports, had not
heard about the phased-in program and were planning to deny
boarding to passengers without passports on January 23. Once
they received the updated and accurate information, airline
personnel did not deny boarding simply for lack of a
passport. The delayed flights, long lines of angry and
disgruntled passengers, and complaints to the media that many
expected did not occur. As the Deputy Chief of Mission
described it, watching January 23 preclearance processing in
Toronto’s Pearson Airport, “It was a non-event event.”

WHTI – LAND
———–

13. (SBU) The challenge ahead is how best to prepare
travelers to meet the second part of the WHTI regulations,
which will require anyone entering the U.S. through the land
border to have a valid passport or approved alternate
document. Barring legislation to change the schedule, this
part will be implemented (again, likely via a phased-in
process) in 2008. (Comment: Secretary Chertoff told the
Ambassador in an October 29, 2007 meeting that DHS intended
to enforce the requirement for passports or other acceptable
secure documents on people entering the U.S. by land and sea
in the late s or early fall of 2008. Although this was not a
fixed date, DHS would definitely impose the passport
requirement during 2008. End comment.) The Canadian
government has been in denial for a long while, holding out
the hope that the U.S. Congress and administration would
amend the law in ways favorable to Canada. Canada’s delay in
working out a way to comply with U.S. air entry rules
resulted in a last-minute rush on Canadian passport offices
early in 2007. Canadian passport applicants waited three
months for a passport, causing thousands to change their
spring and summer travel plans for 2007. We do not see
enough progress on the Canadian side to prevent a similar
passport backlog when land crossings require a passport in
2008. Canadian officials are still hopeful that Congress
will mandate the implementation date for passports for land
border crossings to be June of 2009.

WHTI – ALTERNATE DOCUMENTS
————————–

14. (SBU) Canadian provincial and U.S. state governments are
Q14. (SBU) Canadian provincial and U.S. state governments are
now seeking to produce an acceptable alternative land border
crossing document that can be used an an alternative a
passport. Washington State initiated a pilot project to
produce an enhanced, more secure driver’s license that
records the bearer’s citizenship. DHS says that it is
willing to consider the use of such a document at the land
border. The pilot project is being developed in fall 2007,
with the first enhanced licenses possibly issued early in
2008. British Columbia has proposed a similar driver’s
license project. The states of Vermont, Arizona, and New
York have agreed to issue enhanced driver’s licenses, and
California and Ohio may join that group. The provinces of
Ontario and Quebec have also indicated that they will issue
enhanced driver’s licenses. In the case of Ontario at least,
an enhanced driver’s license may take more time and expense
to properly implement than Ontario authorities would like to
admit. Ontario driver’s licenses are stored and issued by
private, storefront contractors, not provincial government

OTTAWA 00002058 004 OF 004

officers, and the media has pointed out gaps in
accountability and security.

BORDER LAW ENFORCEMENT – TOWARDS A SEAMLESS APPROACH
——————————————— ——-

15. (SBU) The post-9/11 move to enhance security on the
border has led to a number of new initiatives to eliminate
gaps in border geography, enhance information sharing, and
better coordinate law enforcement operations. Mission Canada
reinvigorated several fora to better coordinate cross border
crime and counter-terrorism policy – principally the Cross
Border Crime Forum and the Bilateral Consultative Group on
Counter-Terrorism. The U.S. and Canada conducted the first
trial “Shiprider” program to move towards cooperative marine
policing of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway, which we
hope will see law enforcement officers of both nations
assigned to the other’s border patrol boats. Our two
countries initiated the Integrated Border Enforcement Team
(IBET) program, in which officers from the U.S. and Canada
share office space at 15 locations on both sides of the
border in order to better share information and coordinate
local law enforcement activities. And the U.S. and Canada
have conducted national and local exercises to test our
systems for responding to cross-border incidents.

Visit our shared North American Partnership blog (Canada &
Mexico) at http://www.intelink.gov/communities/state/nap

Visit our shared North American Partnership blog (Canada & Mexico) at
http://www.intelink.gov/communities/state/nap

WILKINS

 

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