The threats that face us from the north across our border with Canada are very different than those from the south. For that matter, almost everything else about the northern border situation is different. There is no drug war going on in Canada or widespread violence associated with it. Canada is a first world country with an industrialized economy; poverty is relatively low; and almost all citizens are literate and well educated. There are some significant differences between the Canadian and US political and economic systems, but there are more similarities between them than there are between the Mexican and US systems. There also aren’t hundreds of thousands of Canadian citizens trying to illegally cross the northern border every year or millions of illegal Canadian nationals already living among us.
While plenty of cross-border drug trafficking activity happens between Canada and the United States (more on that later), it’s not nearly as voluminous as it is in the southwestern part of the country. Also, any terrorism-related activity going on in Canada that involves trips to the United States tends to be very “under the radar” and involves legitimate modes of transportation, not midnight border crossings in the woods using specialized human smugglers. Assuch, northern border security issues rarely make headlines because bloodshed or violence usually aren’t involved. As a result, we seem to have forgotten all about our northern border, even though crossing it – by air or on foot – seems to be one of the more likely ways an operational terrorist will attempt to enter the United States to do us harm.
In May 2011, former Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Alan Bersin testified at a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security that, “in terms of the terrorist threat, it’s commonly accepted that the more significant threat comes from the US-Canada border.” After the hearing, Bersin told reporters that CBP has recorded more cases of people with suspected terrorist backgrounds or links to terror organizations entering the United States from Canada than from Mexico.