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December 15, 2006

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> But why can't we ask them to stop their cars?

Because some of them will be Important Rich White Men (what the Europeans used to call "aristocrats") who own all the power in our society and will make life hell for the border guards if they're detained.

re. why not stop cars with foreigners - I can offer interlinked reasons. All are related to the fact that non-US, Mexican and Canadian citizens will likely be driving hired or purchased cars with NAFTA plates. You won't be able to tell which is which by sight. That means that non-NAFTA citizens crossing the border will be divided into two streams:
1) The Bad - illegals and terrorists and others with no particular enthusiasm for helping law enforcement - they won't stop, and you are not going to catch many without huge numbers of expensive spot checks
2) The Good - law-abiding visitors to the US, who feel it only right to help the border police of their host country. Tiny downside here is: A) What's the point - that kind don't overstay their visas. B) that being fingerprinted on your way out makes you feel a bit like a criminal.

Trust me, I've been a European visitor to the US. We went to get a feel for the 'real' US, rather than the nasty version that sometimes turns up in the newspapers here in the EU. First thing to welcome us: a sour-faced border guard taking our fingerprints and a mug shot. Can't say I was really able to admire the 'Land of the Free' in quite the same way afterwards. Fingerprinting me some more during a visit to Niagara would really have helped the hearts and minds campaign. A bit of empathy, please, people. We don't continualy mugshot/fingerprint/DNA sample/whatever all those friendly US kids doing their tours of Europe (at least, I think we don't?)

This does seem odd. Unfortunetly, I'm not knowledgeable enough to offer an opinion, so here goes:

Any effective border safeguards would be bad for corporate America. Sorry to be trite, but as I said, this isn't my area of expertise. That's not not mention that crazy-ass story from The Observer the other day, about drug-related killings being okay'd by the doj. I mean, imagine if there were records of who went through the border in cars registered to whom and when. That could be politically embarrassing!

the observer

Hilzoy: For starters, not everyone would have to stop -- US citizens and lawful permanent residents, as well as Mexican and Canadian citizens, are exempt from this program, and could presumably speed right through.

Every car would have to stop, because there would be no other way to know whether or not everyone in the car was a US/Mexican/Canadian citizen or lawful permanent resident of those three countries.

Putting an intrusive, expensive, and useless boondoggle in place at all US airports for non-citizens didn't create protest, because everyone was already accustomed to the fact that non-citizens lined up at one row of desks, citizens lined up at another, and the entry procedures for non-citizens were already longer and more annoying than for citizens: that's so for almost every country that you want to get into, and though I think the US is worse in this regard than most countries I've been to, including China, still - the solution for not subjecting yourself to the US's new security procedures is not to visit the US, and aside from those who have to do so for business purposes, we're all free to do that.

Countries which subject people to examination and process before they can leave the country are few and far between. East Germany was one such. A country has to be pretty restrictive before they start placing border controls on people trying to get out. Evidently the US has almost reached that point: when it has, who will protest?

This is one of your posts where I can’t find a single solitary thing to disagree with. 1.7 Billion the last 3 years? Congress ordered this 10 years ago and they have nothing?!

I need to get into government contracting.

Steve, if you strike it big, remember the folks who argued with you when you were just a little guy. :)

Sounds like a basic conceptual problem at work here, but why let that get in the way of a $1,700,000,000 contracting opportunity?

Determining whether or not visitors have overstayed or left -- a reasonable goal. Fingerprinting/eyescanning every visitor, and then monitoring every soul who leaves the US with fingerprinting/eyescanning to then match them to the database of visitors? A wildly impractical solution to the problem, especially when the design criteria includes a requirement to not actually stop the people leaving in order to fingerprint/eyescan them.

Brought to you by the same people who are only one step away from equiping sharks with laser beams.

Maybe they should first focus on solving that scheme to rocket nuclear waste to the sun.

I think doing retinal or even iris prints at a distance is highly improbable even if the vehicle is stopped.

It'd be interesting to see how much has actually been spent on this, BTW, and for what. Right now the way the funding works is there's appropriation dollars that simply carry over to the next year if they're unspent. It's possible (but not likely) that there's still a whole lot of money that hasn't been used.

To paraphrase the Visa rewards guy: very, very, very unlikely.

I probably shouldn’t bid on this contract, now that you have exposed it to the world :)

Haven’t heard much about the failed IT upgrade for the FBI lately. That seems to be under the radar right now, maybe I’ll bid on that.

I can futz around a few years then just tell them it didn’t work out. I mean it’s not like there would be penalties or they would want the money back.

I’ll get some pretty screen savers and throw in a used Mac or two. Buy up some old mid-range computers on E-bay. Install AOL or Yahoo IM on all their machines and tell them it is a new high-tech secure communications service.

It’s a real pain crossing the bay and I haven’t worn a tie for years, so I’ll just tell them I have to work remotely because I couldn’t get the security clearance to actually get inside the building.

I’m going to be filthy rich and you suckers can all say “I knew him when”.

And you can show us all your mercy and largesse by donating a trifle -- a hundred thousand here, a hundred thousand there, just pocket change really -- to your vanquished blog-comment foes. It'll remind the people of your common touch :)

The Department of Homeland Security is a massive disaster, and the sooner it's shut down the better. From the very beginning it was security theater covering over huge piles of pork.

Although in general I'm not opposed to "huge piles of pork" (particularly when suitably attached to ribs, marinated, and slow-cooked), I've held the opinion pretty much since the get-go that DHS was at least a local maximum of bad ideas. Not least of which was: the name.

I drive between the US and Canada all the time. I always have to stop my car, at least for a few seconds, both ways. And I've even got a Nexus card.

I haven't driven to Mexico for quite some time, but I remember having to stop the car there also.

So is there some new problem with cars not stopping? Or are they talking more about commercial truck traffic, which is generally pre-cleared?

I rush to agree with Slarti on the issue of the name. When it was announced, I said, "Oh, great! Now we can go back to calling the DoD the War Department."

You only distinguish 'homeland' defense from anything else if you're an empire. (And you only start to pretend that your permanent war economy is all about 'defense' when that empire gets reeeeally big; hence the timing of the 'War Dept.-->Dept of Defense' change.)

Everyone already has to stop, going both ways. The requirement to have and show a passport to travel to Canada (and, mainly, back in) is going into effect in 2007, is it not?

I'm all for finding out who got these inherently ridiculous contracts, but this seems like only a drop in the "security" boondoggle ocean.

When you go to Canada, you have to pass through only Canadian customs, as far as I know. I don't think the US has any infrastructure whatsoever in place to check people who are leaving the country.

Nell: the CBC's website has an informative backgrounder on the new border regulations for travelling to and from Canada. Regarding passports:

By Jan. 23, 2007, Canadians who are flying into the United States will have to use their passports. The U.S. estimates that 90 per cent of people flying in from Canada already show the passports. At land border crossings, Canadians will have to start using passports or a special ID card by June 2009.

Americans face the same rules. If they travel to Canada, they will be required to show secure ID on their return to the United States — either a passport or the ID card that's still to be designed.

Even more fun, courtesy NPR: Border Fence Firm Snared for Hiring Illegal Workers.

Heh.

MattBastard,

Like no one saw that coming...

The fence is yet another thing that I've always regarded as a monumentally bad idea. Or a monument to bad ideas.

Hey, at least it's not a bridge to nowhere.
:-P

OT: Some good news.

Cool.

So, mice can stop with the insulin injections sometime soon. Hope the analysis generalizes to humans sometime soon.

I haven't driven to Mexico for quite some time, but I remember having to stop the car there also.

I drive down to Baja frequently. The US does nothing observable with regard to vehicles leaving (there must be some form of photo surveillance -- but nothing readily visible).

Mexican custom officials waive nearly everyone through -- there is never a line to cross, and I do not recall ever stopping (unlike when returning -- usually a nightmare). The only cars stopped going south are Mexicans being harassed by Mexican customs. They sometimes have a light system operating that selects cars at random for some sort of harasment -- I have seen the lights (never been stopped by them) and heard about it -- even then they are frequently not in operation.

Crossing south on foot is completely unregulated at Tijuana, and I assume elsewhere. At the border fence, you walk through those metal rotating cages with parallel bars that prevent circling back. That's it -- no visible border security on either side (though I am sure someone has video surveillance running).

Could not the US make a deal with Canada and Mexico that they report to the US (and vice-versa) every person arriving by car? It would require each country to make a record of every person entering. I doubt Canada and the US would have a problem doing this; it looks like Mexico (thanks dmb) would be the bigger issue.

cw: I doubt Canada and the US would have a problem doing this;

I think all three nations would have a problem with this.

The US would have a problem with being compelled to report information from US Immigration to other nations.

Canada and Mexico would (I hope) have a problem with the idea that, just because the US is sliding towards totalitarianism and has decided it wants to keep track of people leaving the US, they should do them same.

Jes,
I was thinking more of the technical issues involved. I'd agree with your assessment of the political issues.

Hey, at least it's not a bridge to nowhere.

BridgeS. Bridges. We got two of em in the works - the Stevens/Young approach to pork: Go big before you go home.

"Canada and Mexico would (I hope) have a problem with the idea that, just because the US is sliding towards totalitarianism and has decided it wants to keep track of people leaving the US, they should do them same."

Jesurgislac, isn't your country the one that recently talked about tracking every single car traveling anywhere in the country? ;)

Sebastian: Jesurgislac, isn't your country the one that recently talked about tracking every single car traveling anywhere in the country?

Yeah, in theory at least to make sure drivers pay for the roads they use, but I agree it's a sodding bad idea. As is the proposed national ID card. I see these as signs of a country heading towards totalitarianism, too, and I am particularly bitter that the US's system of treating everyone wanting to enter the US as a potential criminal is leaking outwards - the latest excuse for forcing UK citizens to possess a national ID card is that passports have to change anyway to comply with "new international standards" - if you're a government spokesperson; America's new standards - if you're anyone else. But at least the UK currently makes no such Berlin Wall attempt to police people leaving the country, as the US has apparently been trying to do.

I am particularly bitter that the US's system of treating everyone wanting to enter the US as a potential criminal

I think we ought to treat everyone as potentially innocent, myself.

passports have to change anyway to comply with "new international standards"

When I next get my passport renewed, the first thing I'm going to do is fry the RFID chip.

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