DHS Shores Up Northern Border Strategy

With an updated Northern Border Strategy, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) focuses on border safeguards, safe and efficient cross-border trade and travel and also strengthening cross-border infrastructure protection. The new strategy goals and objectives draws on threat analysis conducted by the department in 2017 and replaces the 2012 Northern Border Strategy.

Describing the Northern Border as a “limited threat in comparison to the U.S. Southern Border,” according to DHS’ June 2018 report, Northern Border threats to U.S. public safety predominantly entail the “bi-directional flow of illicit drugs” along with transnational criminal activity along the border. In addition, “homegrown violent extremists in Canada who are not included in the U.S. Government’s consolidated terror watch list” can potentially legally enter the United States from a Northern Border port of entry without suspicion.

Currently developing an implementation plan to accompany the Northern Border Strategy, DHS plans to “improve the Department’s oversight and optimize resource utilization in support of enhancing security, travel, trade and resiliency along the U.S.-Canada border,” according to a release. Critical to establishing these goals, is the “continued close collaboration with federal, state, local, tribal, private sector and Canadian partners.”

With implementation of the strategy, DHS objectives and goals include:

  • Enhance border security operations through better information sharing and increased domain awareness and  integrated operations
  • Exchange timely and actionable information and intelligence with relevant parties on cross-border terrorism and illicit activities
  • Improve coordination, information and analysis across surveillance and information-sharing systems
  • Assess risk and capability gaps to inform placement of assets and resources
  • Disrupt terrorist and illicit activities
  • Facilitate and safeguard legal trade and travel though enhancements of rapid inspection and screening, enforcement of a fair trade environment and the bolstering of border infrastructure
  • Promote Trusted Traveler and pre-screening programs and continue development of technologies to enable rapid processing of travelers
  • Improve policies enabling a fair and competitive trade environment
  • Improve infrastructure
  • Promote cross-border resilience through support of response and recovery capabilities between all parties– federal, state, local, tribal and Canadian partners
  • Improve threat and risk awareness

“Security and facilitation of trade and travel are not competing goals, but rather are mutually reinforcing.”