WATCH: Canada and the U.S. have announced a new deal meant to make travel between the two countries easier and faster. But, it’s still not clear how it will all work. Jackson Proskow reports.
TORONTO – Canada and the U.S. signed a new agreement Monday that could make travel between countries easier and faster.
Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson signed a customs pre-clearance agreement that would allow customs agents to work in each other’s countries and away from the border. The agreement would be implemented for all modes of transportation.
“This historic new agreement builds on decades of successful pre-clearance operations in Canadian airports,” Blaney said. “It will enhance the security at our border and create jobs and growth in Canada by improving the flow of legitimate goods and people between our two countries.”
WATCH: MP Steven Blaney was in Washington Monday to sign a new pre-clearance agreement with the United States and described how citizens on land could soon cross a border easier.
Here’s what we know so far about the agreement.
Pre-clearance away from border: Customs agents will be able to pre-screen travellers away from country entry points (at new facilities) that would ease congestion at border crossings. Budgeting for new customs infrastructure has yet to be announced
Pre-clearance is already happening for air travel: People wishing to enter the U.S. by air can clear U.S. customs at eight airports across the country, which allows travellers to skip the customs line when they land on U.S. soil.
When will the plan be implemented: That remains unclear as legislation is required on both sides of the border. Both countries planned to open up pre-clearance to land and sea travel in 2011 but a late 2012 deadline was missed.
Armed customs agents: U.S. customs officers will be armed while on Canadian soil but will not have peace officer status, meaning they cannot make an arrest.If an arrest of an individual is required, the person would be detained until a Canadian law enforcement officer arrives.
More jobs: More customs agents will be required on both sides of the border and new pre-clearance facilities will be built, thus creating more jobs.
The governments have expressed a desire to open the border to legitimate travellers, while still screening for criminals. In a recent speech, Johnson described the chilling effect of the 2001 terrorist attacks on U.S. border security.
WATCH: Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson unveils a new pre-clearance agreement between Canada and the United States that could help ease congestion at border crossings.
Land travel into the U.S. declined in 2001, and it never recovered. Data from the U.S. Bureau on Travel Statistics shows 34 per cent fewer vehicle passengers entered the U.S. last year across the northern border compared with 2000, with the biggest drops occurring in 2001 and 2003.
During Monday’s announcement, Blaney said nearly 400,000 people cross the Canada–U.S. land border every day along with over $2 billion in goods and services.
–with files from The Canadian Press
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