Rethinking the Role of the U.S. Mexican Border in the Post-9/11 World

March 23, 2004

Testimony by CFR fellows and experts before Congress.

Written Testimony before a hearing of the
Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate


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Immigration Policy & The Bilateral Relationship”

Stephen E. Flynn, Ph.D.
Commander, U.S. Coast Guard (ret.)
Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow in National Security Studies

March 23, 2004

Chairman Lugar, Senator Biden, and distinguished members of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee. I am the Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations where I recently directed the Independent Task Force on Homeland Security, co-chaired by former Senators Warren Rudman and Gary Hart. In June 2002, I retired as a Commander in the U.S. Coast Guard after 20 years of active duty service. I am honored to be appearing before you this morning to discuss the issue of border control as an element of the bilateral relationship between the United States and Mexico.

North America finds itself in paradoxical times. On the one hand, the hemisphere’s economic prosperity depends on an open continental system that facilitates the free movement of people and goods. On the other, worries over America’s exposure to catastrophic terrorist attacks have transformed homeland security into one of Washington’s leading preoccupations. The result is that while the NAFTA imperative of a more open border was gathering steam prior to 9/11, since that fateful day, controlling the southwest border in an effort to prevent illegal immigration and smuggling has been advanced as essential to combating the terrorist threat against the United States. Security has trumped cross-border facilitation as our abiding interest. This is a mistake since it wrongly presumes that there is an automatic tradeoff between advancing greater degrees of openness to support the movement of legitimate people and goods and the need for more rigorous border controls.

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The experience over the past decade of stepped-up enforcement along the Mexican border suggests that U.S. efforts aimed at hardening its borders can have the unintended consequence of creating precisely the kind of an environment that is conducive to terrorists and criminals. Draconian measures to police the border invariably provide incentives for informal arrangements and criminal conspiracies to overcome cross-border barriers to commerce and labor movements. In addition, unilateral measures pursued on one side of the border create political impediments for enforcement cooperation on the other. The result is that the border region becomes more chaotic which makes it ideal for exploitation by criminals and terrorists.

Terrorists and the tools of terrorism do not spring up at the border. Instead, they arrive via hemispheric and international trade and travel networks. Advancing a continental approach to deterring, detecting, and intercepting illicit actors seeking to exploit those networks would accomplish two things. First, it would provide some strategic depth for responding to a threat before it arrived at a critical and congested border crossing. Second, it would allow the ability to segment risk so that the cross-border movements of people and cargo deemed to present a low-risk could be facilitated. Then limited enforcement resources could be targeted more effectively at those that present a high risk.

The shared risks of loss of life and massive economic disruption presented by the catastrophic terrorist threat should provide the basis for greater levels of bilateral cooperation that can remove many longstanding barriers to continental commerce precisely because those barriers themselves can elevate security risks. For example, the longstanding neglect of the border in terms of limited infrastructure investment and tepid efforts at customs and immigration modernization and harmonization made no sense in purely economic terms. But the resultant inefficiencies that carry substantial commercial costs also create opportunities that thugs and terrorists can exploit. Thus, there is a national security rationale to redress those inefficiencies. The agendas for both promoting security and greater continental commerce can be and must be mutual reinforcing.

The Hardened Border Paradox

Great powers have been building great walls throughout history. The Great Wall of China, the Maginot Line, and the Berlin Wall went up at considerable expense in sweat and treasure and all ultimately failed to block or contain the forces that prompted their construction. The recent efforts by the United States to “protect” the southwest border including installing a 26-mile long fence between San Diego and Tijuana, has had a similar fate.

Take the case of illegal migration. Stepped-up patrolling and policing of the border may raise the costs of getting to the United States, but it also creates a demand for those who are in the business of arranging the illegal crossings. Migrants who once simply strolled across the border to seek work on the other side, now need “professional” help. That help is provided by guides known as “coyotes” who take migrants to remote border locations or put together increasingly sophisticated smuggling operations at the land border entries. As the coyote business becomes more lucrative, criminal gangs are better positioned to invest in pay-offs of front-line agents.[1] The prevalence of corruption, in turn, undermines information sharing and operational coordination between U.S. authorities and their Mexican counterparts.

Enforcement driven-delays at the border also ironically contribute to creating opportunities for smuggling narcotics as well. In Laredo, Texas for instance, truck crossings were at 2.8 million in 1999, up from 1.3 million in 1993.[2] Many of these trucks operating at the border are old and poorly maintained and owned by small mom-and-pop trucking companies. The turnover-rate among drivers is extremely high. These conditions are prevalent because waiting hours at a border crossing in order to make a 20-mile round trip, with an empty trailer on the return, is not a lucrative business. Moving intercontinental freight is, so the trucks and drivers who make long-haul journeys tend to be of a higher quality. Since it is uneconomical to run a state-of-the-art rig near the border, trailers are usually offloaded at depots near the border. In the case of south-bound traffic, a short-haul truck is then contracted to move the freight to a customs broker who will then order another short-haul truck to transport the freight to another depot across the border. A long-haul truck will then pick up the load and carry it into the interior. The drivers of these short-haul rigs tend to be younger, less skilled, and are paid only nominal wages— as little as $7 to $10 per trip. As a result, the potential payoff for carrying contraband through a congested border crossing is all the more tempting.[3]

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy estimates that more than half of the cocaine that arrives in the United States comes via the southwest border.[4] Even with the rise in the number of inspectors and investigators assigned to the 28 border-entry points in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California, given both the volume and the nature of the trucking sector that services the border, the U.S. government clearly is facing “needle-in-a-haystack” odds as it strives to detect and intercept illicit drugs. The pure cocaine to feed America’s annual coke habit could be transported in just fifteen of the more than 20 million 40-foot containers that arrived at America’s land and sea borders each year. And in addition to looking for drugs, the U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection is charged with monitoring compliance with more than 400 laws and 34 international treaties, statutes, agreements, and conventions on behalf of 40 federal agencies.[5]

So while the prevalence of migrant and narcotics smuggling seems to provide a compelling rationale for tightening up controls along U.S. borders, aggressive border inspections in turn, confront improbable odds while fostering the kinds of conditions that generate ample time and opportunity within a Mexican and US border city for these illicit transfers to occur. Hardened borders also transform the cost-reward structure so amateur crooks are replaced by sophisticated criminal enterprises and corruption issues become more pronounced. In short, the experience of the southwest border suggests that aggressive border security measures end up contributing to problems that inspired them in the first place.

The Open Border Paradox

The United States has enjoyed the remarkable good fortune of having the oft-heralded “longest undefended border in the world” with it Canadian neighbor to the north. For much of the two nation’s history, to the extent that there was a government presence along the 49th parallel, it was only to collect customs duties. As a result, the 5,525 mile border can be summed up as a national boundary with no fences and a few toll gates.

In recent years, those toll gates have come under increasing pressure as cross border trade has flourished. Take the automotive industry, for example. General Motors, Ford, and DaimlerChrysler manufacture many of the parts to build their cars and trucks from plants in the Canadian province of Ontario. Several times each day these parts are delivered to the assembly plants in the United States. Delivery trucks are loaded so that parts meant for specific vehicles can be unloaded and placed directly on the appropriate chassis as it moves down the assembly line. This “just-in-time” delivery system has given the Big Three a more cost-effective and efficient production process.

It has also generated a great deal of truck traffic. For example, up to 9000 trucks a day transit the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit, Michigan, and Windsor, Ontario. At these rates, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials must clear one truck every 18 seconds. If they fall behind, the parking lot can accommodate only 90 tractor-trailers at a time. Once the parking lot fills, trucks back up onto the bridge. The resulting pileup virtually closes the border, generating roadway chaos throughout metropolitan Windsor and Detroit, and costs the average automotive assembly plant an average of $1 million per hour in lost production.

Over the past two decades, the episodic attention directed at the northern border was primarily centered around efforts to minimize any source of administrative friction that added to cost and delay of legitimate commerce. The notion of the 49th parallel as a security issue is a recent phenomenon that burst into the limelight just prior to the millennium. The catalyst was the December 1999 arrest of an Algerian terrorist with ties to Osama bin Laden in Port Angeles, Washington. Ahmed Ressam had arrived onboard a ferry from Vancouver in a passenger car with a trunk full of bomb-making materials. Only a U.S. Customs Service official’s unease with the way Ressam answered her questions prevented him from driving onto American soil. The jitters surrounding the Ressam arrest turned into near panic immediately following the September 11 attacks. Worries about the possibility of additional attacks led to the effective sealing of the border as every truck, car, driver, and passenger came under close examination. Within a day there was a 16-hour queue at the major border crossings in Michigan and New York.[6] By September 13, Damiler-Chrysler announced they would have to close an assembling plant on the following day because their supplies were stuck on the north side of the border.[7] On September 14, Ford announced they would be closing 5 plants the following week.[8] Washington quickly reconsidered its initial response and within a week, the border inspection wait times returned close to normal.

On its face, the open and very limited controls exercised at the U.S.-Canada border would suggest that it was ripe for exploitation by criminals and terrorists. The reality is that the imperative to manage cross-border threats without disrupting trade that amounts to more than $1 billion a day and the travel of 220 million people each year, has led to an extraordinary degree of cross-border cooperation. On the Vermont-Quebec border, for instance, Canadian and U.S. law enforcement officers at the federal, state, provincial, and local levels have been meeting for 18 years to discuss their criminal cases without any formal charter. The relationships are such that participants sit together and share information in much the same way they might at a roll call if they all belonged to the same police precinct.[9] The resultant collegiality spills over into their daily police work. In fact, local agents in Vermont or New Hampshire who are frustrated on occasion by bureaucratic obstacles to getting information or assistance from U.S. federal agencies have found a successful end-run to be to seek out their Canadian counterparts and ask them to serve as intermediaries for their requests!

In Washington state and British Colombia, U.S. and Canadian police, immigration and customs officials, stood up a bi-national team in 1996 to work on cross-border crimes with local, state, and provincial enforcement agencies. The team was called the “Integrated Border Enforcement Team (IBET)” and initially focused on drug smuggling, but the portfolio later expanded to include terrorism. Following the September 11 attacks, Washington and Ottawa agreed to establish a total of 8 of these IBETs along the border.[10]

The movement towards emphasizing a broader framework of bi-national cooperation versus focusing on the physical borderline gained impetus in 1999 when Prime Minister Jean Chretien and President Bill Clinton formed a process of consultation labeled the “Canada-U.S. Partnership (CUSP).” The process had as its objective the reinvention of border management to support the seamless passage of legitimate flows of people and goods between the two countries.[11] Progress towards this end was somewhat halting until after September 11. With 40 percent of its GDP tied to trade with the United States[12] , the post-9-11 closing of the border transformed the CUSP agenda into Ottawa’s top priority. The then Canadian foreign minister, John Manley, was dispatched to Washington to meet with the new White House Director of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge. Manley found a sympathetic audience in Ridge who had just stepped down as Governor of Pennsylvania (Canada was that state’s number 1 trade partner.) Together they hammered out a 30 point “Smart Border Action Plan” which they announced on December 10, 2001. The preamble of the declaration declared:

Public Security and economic security are mutually reinforcing. By working together to develop a zone of confidence against terrorist activity, we create a unique opportunity to build a smart border for the 21st century; a border that securely facilitates the free flow of people and commerce; a border that reflects the largest trading relationship in the world.[13]

In short, in dramatic contrast to the approach the United States had pursued on its southern border throughout the 1990s, with respect to its northern border Washington has concluded that its security is optimized by striving to keep the border as open as possible, while working to improve cooperative bi-national arrangements. Indeed, efforts to harden the border along the 49th parallel have been assessed to be self-defeating not just in economic terms, but in security terms. Closing the border in the wake of a terrorist attack only reinforces the military value of engaging in such attacks. This is because it means the U.S. government ends up doing something to itself that no other world power could aspire to accomplish— it imposes a blockade on its own economy. The result is to convert a small investment in terror into massive disruption of daily life that has a clear and adverse effect on the U.S. and overall global economy. America’s adversaries would undoubtedly take solace in this and recognize that the potential benefits of this kind of warfare warrants consideration.

Beyond Border Control

Embracing openness and advancing homeland security need not be an "either-or" proposition if Washington is willing to apply the lessons it has drawn from its northern border to Mexico and the broader global community. The end game must not be about defending a line on a map, but advancing greater bilateral integration while managing important safety, security, and other public policy interests. This balancing act can be accomplished by: (1) developing the means to validate in advance the overwhelming majority of the people and goods that cross the border as law abiding and low risk; and (2) enhancing the means of federal agents to target and intercept inbound high risk people and goods. Accomplishing the first is key to succeeding at the second since there will always be limits on the time and resources available for agents to conduct investigations and inspections. The goal must be to limit the size of the haystack in which there are most likely to be illicit needles.

Verifying legitimate cross border flows as truly legitimate is not as fearsome task as it might first appear. This is because aggregate border crossing numbers are somewhat misleading since so many of the vehicles, drivers, and people are regular customers. For instance, while there were 4.2 million recorded southwest border truck crossings in 1999, these crossings were made by roughly 80,000 trucks.[14] If we are willing to make the investment, the technologies are certainly available to identify frequent travelers as such. After undergoing a pre-screening application and inspection process, vehicles can be equipped with an electronic transponder and the driver can be provided with a NAFTA transportation identity card with encoded biometric information to confirm that they are in fact who they profess to be. Quickly clearing these vehicles and their drivers allows inspectors to focus more of their time and energy on examining unfamiliar or suspicious traffic.

Similarly, the vast majority of the daily pedestrian border crossings are made by day laborers who return to their homes south of the border each evening. These individuals can be recognized as such by inspectors who are assigned to the border. Well-designed border crossings that are adequately staffed with inspectors who are well-trained in behavior pattern recognition can be more effective than reliance on high-technology when dealing with this foot traffic. An inspector does not need a machine to tell her if she is looking at a face she has never seen before. And a biometric devise is useless in detecting behaviors such as excessive anxiety that should arouse suspicion. There is no substitute for human judgment when making these kinds of calls.

Manufacturers, carriers, shippers, importers or exporters could be encouraged to adopt stringent internal security practices that reduce their exposure to internal criminal conspiracies and which deter criminal elements from targeting their vehicles and goods once they leave a factory, warehouse, or transshipment facility. They should also be encouraged to invest in information and tracking technologies to maintain near real-time accountability of their drivers, vehicles, and cargo from the point of origin through the final destination. Finally, they should transmit in advance, the electronic information border agents need to assess their compliance with the applicable laws and regulations.

Theft-resistant transportation networks are more difficult for criminals and terrorists to compromise. Should there be advance intelligence of such a compromise, these information systems will make it easier to locate and interdict shipments that might contain illegal migrants or contraband before it enters a crowded port or land border inspection facility; alternatively, authorities can put together a “controlled-delivery” sting operation, where the contraband is allowed to reach the intended recipient so that the appropriate arrests can be made.

Given the value this has for security, the U.S. government should work to create every incentive for expanding participation in these frequent-traveler programs including providing adequate staff to quickly process applications and eliminating or substantially reducing or waiving of the fees for receiving these biometric cards and transponders. Since these programs advance our national security, making an appropriate investment in federal resources to them is appropriate.

Still, bringing about the kind of transformation that makes the private sector a willing and able partner in supporting a reinvented border control mission requires strong market incentives. Happily such incentives exists if the U.S. government is thoughtful about how new investments in transportation infrastructure are made at and near the border. Specifically, the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century has targeted substantial funding for major roadway improvements under the Coordinated Border Infrastructure Program.[15] As development and management plans for such projects as the “Ports-to-Plain” Corridor and the I-69 NAFTA highway are drawn-up, the development of a “dedicated trade lane” should be incorporated. That is, like commuter “High Occupancy Vehicle” (HOV) lanes found around many metropolitan areas, access to a dedicated trade lane would be restricted to only those vehicles and drivers and that cargo that participates in the new border management regime.

An additional incentive could come by moving many of the border entry inspection processes away from the physical border itself and instead consolidate them into a single trilateral “NAFTA inspection facility” and locate it on a dedicated traffic lane that leads to the border. For instance there is an 18-mile new toll road leading from I-39 to the Mexican state of Nueva Leon via the recently constructed Colombia Bridge on the outskirts of Laredo, Texas. Why not have the United States, Mexico, and Canada agree to grant extraterritorial legal authority within a NAFTA inspection facility placed at the start of that toll road where trucks, drivers, and cargo could be examined by inspectors from all three countries and where each agency is allowed to enforce their respective national laws and regulations for goods and conveyances bound for their jurisdiction. Statutes governing the development of border crossing facilities and infrastructure should be examined to identify legal barriers which prevent or slow the investment of federal monies in these projects. Specifically, there should be a fast track for completing environmental impact studies that can delay border infrastructure projects up to ten years.

The Bureau of Customs and Border Protection has already embraced this approach in sea ports under a program Commissioner Robert Bonner has called the “Container Security Initiative.” An important element of that initiative is stationing U.S. Customs inspectors overseas in loading and transshipment ports to inspect suspicious cargo before it is even loaded on a ship. Nations who agree to participate are given reciprocal privileges in U.S. ports.[16] In the North American context, the end-state, ideally, should be to develop a single zone conducting “one-stop” arrival and departure inspections. In the case of northbound trucks from Mexico City and Monterey and southbound trucks bound for the Mexican interior, operators would have to stop just once at a location where there is plenty of space to conduct inspections so there is no risk of hours-long backups that now routinely plague the bridges. Once the trucks are cleared, the flow of traffic could be closely monitored by use of “intelligent transportation systems” (ITS) radio frequency or GPS technologies.

But simply relocating where inspections take place is not enough. Border control agencies need to fundamentally change the way they are doing business as well. The days of random, tedious, administrative and labor-intensive border inspection systems— the bane of every legitimate international traveler and business— must be numbered. The manpower constraints inherent in traditional border-control practices guarantee their continuing inability to adequately police the surge in continental and global commerce. What is the alternative? The answer lies in placing greater emphasis on developing the means to enhance “domain awareness” and the capacity to perform “anomaly detection.”

In the computer industry, “anomaly detection” represents the most promising means for detecting hackers intent on stealing data or transmitting computer viruses.[17] The process involves monitoring the cascading flows of computer traffic with an eye towards discerning what is “normal” traffic; i.e., that which moves by way of the most technologically rational route. Once this baseline is established, software is written to detect that which is aberrant. A good computer hacker will try to look as close as possible to a legitimate user. But, since he is not, he inevitably must do some things differently and good cyber-security software will detect that variation, and deny access. For those hackers who manage to get through, their breach is identified and shared so that this abnormal behavior can be removed from the guidance of what is “normal” and acceptable.

In much the same way, the overwhelming majority of the vehicles, people, and cargo that move across the U.S. borders move in predictable patterns. If inspectors have the means to analyze and keep track of these flows, they will have the means to detect “aberrant” behavior. In short, “anomaly detection” of cross-border flows is possible, if the regulatory and enforcement agencies whose daily tasks is to police those flows: (1) are given access to intelligence about real or suspected threats, and (2) are provided the means to gather, share, and mine private sector data that provides a comprehensive picture of “normal” cross border traffic so as to enhance their odds of detecting threats when they materialize.

If the public sector undertakes these changes, the private-sector must also change its attitude about engaging in self-policing and sharing anything but the minimum amounts of relevant data with government agencies. Border control agencies have important and legitimate jobs to perform. The general public wants restrictions on the flows of contraband such as weapons, drugs, and child pornography. Immigration policies require that who enters and who leaves their jurisdictions be monitored and controlled. Many public-health strategies aimed at managing the spread of disease require the identification and isolation of people, livestock, and agricultural products that could place the general population at risk. Safety and environmental threats connected with unsafe shipping and trucking mandate that the transportation sector be monitored. And trade rules must be enforced for trade agreements to be sustainable.

Barriers to continental progress

The approach to border management outlined above has started to gain some currency with respect to the U.S.-Canada border. Just prior to the first anniversary of the tragic attacks on New York and Washington, President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Jean Chrétien met on the Detroit-side of the Ambassador Bridge to launch an initiative dubbed “the Free and Secure Trade (FAST)” program whose purpose is to move pre-approved goods across the border quickly. The two leaders also announced the expansion of program designed to speed the flow of pre-screened “low-risk” travelers across the border known as NEXUS along with a number of actions they are taking in support of the Ridge-Manley Smart Border agreement.[18] Against the backdrop of the world’s busiest commercial border crossing, President Bush declared:

With these two initiatives, we'll ensure faster movement of legal, low-risk goods, and faster travel for people cross our borders, and we'll be able to better enhance security. Our inspectors will spend less time inspecting law-abiding citizens and more time inspecting those who may harm us.[19]

For his part, the former Prime Minister Chrétien asserted:

We recognized that we could create a ‘smart border’-- one that was not only more secure, but more efficient for trade, to permit our businesses to get back to business, to allow our nurses, engineers and computer technicians to provide their services, and our students to attend classes. To let our communities continue planning a shared future together, secure in the knowledge that the border welcomes legitimate trade and travelers.[20]

While ample challenges remain with regard to adequate staffing, infrastructure, data management, and intelligence issues to make this “risk management” approach more capable and credible, there is clearly a consensus that measures that would have the net effect of hardening the border between Canada and the United States would be counterproductive. Meanwhile, the situation on U.S.-Mexican border stands in marked contrast. This is not for the want of any willingness on Mexico’s part. President Vincente Fox has repeatedly offered to have a no-holds bar conversation on the future of its shared border with the United States. But, there has been little enthusiasm in the post 9-11 Washington to reciprocate.

While the new homeland security imperative is cited as the rationale for change to the north, to the south it is being proffered up to explain why the U.S.-Mexican border reform agenda has move from the political fast track to the breakdown lane. The persistent incidence of crime, narcotics and migrant trafficking, and corruption are rallying points for advocates of “tightening-up” border enforcement. The generally unchallenged assumption is that, now more than ever, the United States needs to be committed to vigilance along the southern border.

But, the case for fundamental reform should be even more compelling. Presumably, the combination of the new high security stakes and the acknowledgement in the Ridge-Manley agreement that hardening the 49th parallel is self-defeating, should create fertile ground for a thoughtful reexamination of the prevailing approach to managing the southern border. So why hasn’t this logic been the prevailing one? The answer lies with the fact that the southern border is imprisoned in a legacy of immigration and drug enforcement efforts. Despite two decades of evidence to the contrary, Washington continues to see interdiction at the border as the key to successfully combating the northbound flow of illicit drugs and migrants.

To adopt the “smart border” agenda throughout North America will require that Washington countenance an alternative approach to dealing with the issues of illicit drugs and immigration. It will require the federal agencies for whom border enforcement has been a growth business to acknowledge the unintended consequence of their collective effort has been to actually make the border region more difficult to police and secure. And it will require those within the U.S. Congress who oppose NAFTA to stop exploiting America’s newfound homeland security imperative as a means for advancing their protectionist agenda.


The most important reason to get border management right is to satisfy what is arguably the most critical homeland security imperative of our time: to reduce the risk that hemispheric and global trade lanes will be exploited to smuggle a weapons of mass destruction into the United States. Without a committed effort to advance a bilateral approach to border management, terrorists will continue to have ample opportunity to bring their battles to American streets. It is in the collective interest of the United States and Mexico to work together to mitigate that risk.

But the impetus for challenging conventional notions of border control owes it source not just to a transformed post-9/11 threat environment. It is also a long overdue response to the evolution of commercial and social patterns of interaction throughout North America that have made continental relationships more dynamic, organic, and integrated. As such, the case against traditional border management practices such as those pursued along the southwest border had been already made by the close of the last century for anyone willing to look at objectively at the yawning gap between enforcement rhetoric and reality. Stepped-up efforts to harden the border are a flawed, even counterproductive, approach to advancing important security and public policy interests.

By contrast, the kind of “smart border” initiatives being embraced on the northern border hold out real promise. The outline for transformed border management is clear. It requires a risk management approach to policing cross-border flows which includes the close collaboration of the major beneficiaries of an increasingly open North American continent— the United States’ neighbors to the North and the South, and the private sector. The stakes of getting this right are also clear. Transforming how the border is managed is an essential step towards assuring the long-term sustainability of hemispheric economic integration within the context of the transformed security environment of the post-9-11 world.

Thank you Mr. Chairman. I look forward to responding to your questions.

[1] Peter Andreas, Border Games: Policing the U.S.- Mexico Divide (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2000).

[2] Keith Philips and Carlos Manzanares, “Transportation Infrastructure and the Border Economy,” in The Border Economy (Dallas: Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, June 2001), 11.

[3] Field visit by the author to Laredo, Texas Aug 20-21, 2001.

[4] Office of National Drug Control Policy, National Drug Control Strategy: 2001 Annual Report, Shielding U.S. Borders from the Drug Threat (Washington: USGPO, 2001).

[5] U.S. Customs Service, “About U.S. Customs,” accessed on September 6, 2002 at

[6] U.S. Customs Service, Border Wait Times at major northern and southern border crossings. Current border wait-times information is available at

[7] Steve Erwin, Automakers forced to shut down: Parts shortage suspends production,” Edmonton Journal, September 14, 2001, F4.

[8] “Parts Shortages Cause Ford Shutdown,” Associated Press, September 14, 2001.

[9] The Committee is informally known as the “Leene Committee,” named for its founder, James Leene, a former policeman who serve’s in the U.S. Attorney’s office in Burlington, VT.

[10] 6th Annual Canada-U.S Cross-Border Crime Forum Press Release, July 6, 2002, accessed on September 6, 2002 at

[11] George Haynal, “Interdependence, Globalization, and North American Borders,” in Governance and Public Security (Syracuse: Maxwell School, 2002), 55.

[12] Authors calculations based on statistics available at Statistics Canada,

[13] The Whitehouse Office of Homeland Security, “Action Plan for Creating a Secure and Smart Border,” Dec 12, 2001, accessed on September 5, 2002 at

[14] Office of the Inspector General, “Interim Report on Status of Implementing the North American Free Trade Agreement’s Cross Border Trucking Provisions,” Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, MH-2001-059, (May 8, 2001), 7. Also, Statement of the Honorable Kenneth M. Mead, Inspector General, USDOT, “Motor Carrier Safety at the U.S. – Mexican Border,” July 18, 2001 before the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, United States Senate.

[15] TEA-21 [1119(a)]

[16] Robert C. Bonner, “Pushing Borders Outwards: Rethinking Customs Border Enforcement,” A speech presented at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington, D.C., Jan 17, 2002.


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