Pubdate: Fri, 09 Jul 1999
Source: Vancouver Province (Canada)
Copyright: The Province, Vancouver 1999
Author: Adrienne Tanner, Staff Reporter 


U.S. plans to step up patrols in response to dramatic increase in
border smuggling.

More cameras and cops will soon be monitoring Zero Avenue to combat
drug smugglers and illegal migrants sneaking across the
B.C.-Washington border.

The extra security measures were announced yesterday by Doris
Meissner, Commissioner of the United States Immigration and
Naturalization Service.

A powerful camera system, able to track vehicle and foot passengers
day and night, will monitor the 687-kilometre stretch between Blaine
and the Cascade Mountains.

It will be backed by seven additional border patrol

They will join the integrated enforcement team that includes RCMP,
customs officers, INS border patrol agents and U.S. Drug Enforcement
Administration officers.

The team can already boast of many successes, Meissner

"It has resulted in numerous arrests on both sides of the border,
including seizing more than $2.5 million worth of illegal drugs in May

Although the INS is stepping up security to protect its own border,
the additional measures will also benefit Canada.

Illegal aliens use Canada as a "springboard" to enter the United
States, said Gene Davis, Deputy Chief Patrol Agent for the Blaine sector.

"Our statistics show, over the last three years, real dramatic
increases," he said.

The traffic flows both ways. In the last 18 months, a steady stream of
petty drug dealers from Central America have traveled overland and
illegally slipped into Canada across the border.

Meissner said the crackdown on illegal border traffic would not impede
innocent travellers.

"We're determined to make the process of entering the United States as
pleasant an experience as we can."

Plans are being made to allow travelers entry into the U.S. from some
border crossings even when inspectors are off duty.

Remote control cameras and telephone links will allow travelers to
talk to inspectors at larger, fully-staffed ports of entry, Meissner

Traffic is already flowing smoothly between the two neighbors, she
said.  About 94 per cent of the traffic clears the U.S. border in 20
minutes or less, she said. 

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