U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Public Safety Canada Minister Peter Van Loan today announced initiatives between the United States and Canada.
Those initiatives build on their shared commitment to tackle common threats like terrorism and organized crime while ensuring the lawful flow of travel and trade across the border.
The announcement came after Secretary Napolitano and Minister Van Loan met for the second of their formal biannual meetings; the Secretary and the Minister have also met three other times this year.
Today they reviewed progress on the mutual goals they announced in May--including enhancing information sharing and expanding integrated law enforcement while protecting privacy and economic security.
"Close cooperation and coordination between the United States and Canada is critical to the national and economic security of both nations," said Secretary Napolitano. "Minister Van Loan and I are committed to working together to combat transnational threats and facilitate lawful travel and trade on both sides of the border."
"A shared understanding of the threats and risks we face is paramount to our common objective of enhancing U.S.-Canadian security. We are working together to achieve this," said Minister Van Loan. "We have a joint responsibility to secure the safety of our citizens."
Secretary Napolitano and Minister Van Loan also made announcements to strengthen both trade and security:
Streamlining Border Shipping: Canada and United States have agreed to work toward aligning the U.S. Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) and Canada's Partners in Protection (PIP) program, in an effort to achieve harmonization as quickly as possible. These trusted shipper programs focus on improving the security of private sector supply chains and benefit shippers.
Maritime Emergency Cooperation: Canada and United States have created a Maritime Annex to the Joint Framework for the Movement of People and Goods During and Following Emergencies. This is an addition to the Framework the countries established in May. The new annex guides communication and coordination during incidents that affect shared waterways and ports, enabling both nations to assist one another during emergencies.
NEXUS and FAST Cards Now Accepted Everywhere: Canada will join the United States in recognizing NEXUS and Free and Secure Trade (FAST) trusted traveler program cards as valid identification documents in all lanes at all land and sea border ports of entry beginning Nov. 25. It was also announced that the programs are expanding with new enrollment centers opening in St. Stephen, New Brunswick -- Calais, Maine and Lansdowne, Ontario -- Alexandria Bay, N.Y
Immigration Information Sharing: Secretary Napolitano announced that the United States will join a biometric data sharing initiative involving Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom and, eventually, New Zealand -- an initiative designed to strengthen the integrity of immigration systems and the security of each country while protecting privacy and civil rights. Minister Van Loan, with the Canadian Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, Jason Kenney, welcomed the United States' participation.
"Previous trials show that biometric information sharing works. For example, when the fingerprints of some asylum claimants in Canada were checked against the U.S. database, more than a third matched and 12 percent of these individuals presented a different identity in the United States," said Minister Kenney. "The data sharing helps uncover details about refugee claimants such as identity, nationality, criminality, travel and immigration history, all of which can prove relevant to the claim."
Fighting Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing: Secretary Napolitano and Minister Van Loan announced that the two countries are in the final stages of completing a Memorandum of Understanding to share data on currency seized at the border. This will significantly enhance the ability of law enforcement officers in both countries to investigate and track illicit cash movement. It will disrupt the flow of funds that support the activities of criminals and terrorists.
Combating Human Trafficking: Secretary Napolitano and Minister Van Loan agreed to instruct their respective law enforcement agencies to enhance collaboration on efforts to combat human trafficking in both nations and across the U.S.-Canada border. As part of extensive existing cooperative efforts to ensure the security of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games, both countries are already focusing on ensuring that the Games do not present a venue for criminals to engage in human trafficking.
Security Cooperation: Secretary Napolitano and Minister Van Loan also agreed to exchange best practices and broaden collaboration in the areas of critical infrastructure protection and countering violent extremism.
Continuing Cooperation: Minister Van Loan and Secretary Napolitano expect to meet again in approximately six months to continue their strategic work on mutual initiatives to combat security threats and expedite travel and trade.