DECEMBER 19, 2006
Although she claims that national security is of paramount importance, New York Senator Hillary Clinton vigorously opposes a plan developed in response to the September 11 terrorist attacks and designed to strengthen border security.
The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative requires all travelers, U.S. citizens and foreign nationals alike, to present a passport that denotes identity and citizenship when entering the United States from Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean and Bermuda. The goal is to strengthen border security and facilitate entry into the U.S. with standardized, secure and reliable documentation that officials can easily verify.
Clinton is fighting the implementation of this simple yet reliable system because she believes it will have a severe economic impact on the state she represents in the U.S. Senate. The former First Lady also believes that the system will somehow pose security and privacy issues for residents along New York’s northern border.
Motivated by these concerns, Clinton sent the U.S. Department of State a lengthy submission in which she makes a case against the new security system, which is supposed to be implemented by early next year.
Clinton writes that imposing the travel restrictions could have a profound economic and social impact on border communities and that they could even devastate the tourism and retail industry. More importantly, Clinton writes that protecting the country can also greatly disrupt life on both sides of the American-Canadian border.
She goes on to say that this issue is not solely driven by economics by including a touching example of how American children play sports in Canadian youth leagues and Canadian families visit relatives in the United States. Clinton tells the State Department that the people who live in these shared border areas do not regard themselves as Americans or Canadians, but rather as one community of neighbors.
Absent from the senator’s letter were intelligence officials’ documented northern border security concerns or the arrest this year of 17 terrorists in Canada with three tons of ammonium nitrate, the material used to make the Oklahoma City bomb in 1995. They could have easily slipped in the U.S. through more than 4,000 miles of northern border.
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