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|U.S.Canada commit to provide security, prosperity and freedom along the border
|October 16, 2004
Remarks by Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge at a Joint Press Conference
with Deputy Prime Minister Anne Mclellan (Remarks as Prepared)
Thank you. I am honored to be here with the Deputy Prime Minister and all of our
colleagues and friends from Canada. These trips are usually short, but always
productive. And this occasion has been no different. We've had the opportunity
to discuss - and come to agreement on - a variety of issues that are critical
to the work we are doing together to secure our border.
Along that border, we share an equal commitment to the principles of security,
prosperity and freedom. And by reaching across those 5,525 miles, we've forged
a partnership to help us achieve all three of these principles for our citizens.
That partnership began in earnest when I signed the Smart Border Declaration with
Deputy Prime Minister Manley nearly three years ago. And it has continued every
day since, at every level of our governments, and at every checkpoint or border
crossing from Vancouver to Maine. Today, I am pleased to announce that we've made
even more progress.
Deputy Prime Minister McLellan mentioned our work to install two new dedicated
FAST Lanes, improve cargo security by working together overseas, and begin commercial
pre-screening at the Peace Bridge crossing. These initiatives will further enhance
border security and speed the flow of commerce between two great trading partners.
We're also going to make sure passengers who travel frequently between the United
States and Canada - for work or pleasure - will have a quicker and more secure
trip through our airports. Starting in just two months, we will launch the NEXUS
Air pilot project at Vancouver International Airport.
Approved frequent travelers who enroll in the program will be interviewed, checked
against law enforcement databases and watch lists, and then identified using biometrics
such as iris scans, fingerprints, and digital photographs. These low-risk travelers
will then be able to use automated kiosks to process themselves through customs
and immigration checkpoints.
When the program becomes operational at the end of the year, we will not only
facilitate travel between our countries, but also improve security by focusing
our collective resources on lesser-known or higher-risk travelers.
I am also proud to announce that we will establish our fifteenth Integrated Border
Enforcement Team (IBET) at Sault Ste. Marie to better coordinate cross-border
As you know, these teams of federal, state and local partners on both sides of
the border are already operating effectively in several locations. This newest
border enforcement team will ensure that we continue to investigate, stop, and
prosecute any activity that threatens national security.
We can only achieve these goals if we continue to improve communications - not
just meetings like this one, but communications on the ground
where it matters
most. That is why Deputy Prime Minister McLellan and I have signed a joint communications
agreement to improve radio interoperability between U.S. and Canadian law enforcement
The first of its kind, this agreement will ensure that we can share information
more easily and better coordinate our efforts - especially in an emergency. This
will hold true regardless of the make, model, or frequency of radios used by first
responders and law enforcement officials.
The scope of these initiatives - and our talks with government officials and business
leaders over the past two days - show that the Smart Border Declaration is indeed
being put into action. Consistent with the cooperative spirit that has marked
our relationship for decades
we are making security and prosperity a priority
on our shared border.
We're streaming known passengers and low-risk cargo into our countries while we
focus our resources on stopping terrorists and criminals before they can harm
our citizens. And we're doing this while protecting the freedoms that Americans
and Canadians have come to appreciate and expect.
There's still plenty of work ahead. But as we make progress every day, I'm confident
that the strength of our partnership and the security of our border will continue
to define our friendship for decades and centuries to come.
DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY STORIES:
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