New Border-Crossing Deal Will Enhance Exit-Entry Tracking

Details of the new U.S./Canada border deal, released December 7 in Washington, confirm that enhanced exit/entry systems implemented in both countries will be initiated next summer and will ultimately enable either government to track when you cross the border, where you are going, when you return home and with whom you are travelling.

The exit/entry systems will be integrated between the two governments, each sharing their own border crossing data with the other. That will mean that every border crossing you make, by air, car, or boat, will be entered into a searchable database, leaving little room for even negligible “overstays” to go undetected.

The Beyond the Border deal, announced jointly by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Barack Obama, was hailed as a major breakthrough in easing mounting border congestion. The exit/entry system is only one part of a much larger plan to ease and encourage cross-border travel, business and commerce.

By next summer, American border agents are expected to be able to report the names of all foreign visitors and lawful landed immigrants from Canada who have crossed into the U.S. to Canadian officials. Canadian border crossing officials will reciprocate.

By the following year, 2014, the two governments will be able to share the movements of all travellers crossing the border—including all citizens of either country– to their cross-border counterparts.

The exit/entry system will also allow Canada to track unemployment insurance recipients who file for benefits and leave for the U.S. for months at a time to enjoy vacations or to seek underground jobs. Similarly, it will be able to track landed immigrants who flout Canada’s residency laws which require them to stay in Canada two full years in a five-year period. The government is concerned that many have not been doing so, have left the country, but have still been claiming Canadian residency benefits.

In addition, the popular Nexus crossing card program will be expanded to allow greater numbers of “trusted” frequent travellers to bypass long lines at air or ground crossing points.

The border deal will also enable small groups of police officers and security officials to work as teams to investigate and detect illicit trans-border activity. Each team will work under command of the host country while in that country.

However, nothing in the Beyond the Border Deal will change the rules about how long you can visit in the U.S. You will just have to be careful in keeping track of your cross-border trips.

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