Border program under fire
NEXUS CARDS SEEN AS 'LICENCES TO SMUGGLE'
Posted By DAN MCCAFFERY
November 5, 2008
There will be longer lineups at the Blue Water Bridge if fast-track programs are abandoned, officials say.
They issued that warning Tuesday after the head of the border guard union at Sarnia said he understands why his colleagues consider Nexus cards to be “licences to smuggle.”
A newly-released report says border guards believe too many carriers of the cards are cheating.
Mike Coene, president of Local 19 of the Customs and Immigration Union, says he and his fellow guards are frustrated at a lack of personal contact in the Nexus and Fast programs. The way things stand now, smugglers and impaired drivers could whiz past them in designated lanes, he said.
“It goes against the concept of border security,” said Coene, who represents 180 local border staff. “It's a closed window concept. There is very little contact between the officer and the traveller.”
But Ken James, chairperson of the board of directors of Blue Water Bridge Canada, said the Nexus program is an important tool in the fight to relieve border congestion.
“It's increasingly helpful in shortening up the queue,” he said.
James said vehicles are periodically checked, and if travellers are caught smuggling, they face much stiffer penalties than would otherwise be the case.
“You get a real lecture when you get your Nexus card that you are getting special consideration,” he said.
Chuck Chrapko, CEO of Blue Water Bridge Canada, agreed that without Nexus cards there would be more lineups at the border.
“There are 19,000 Nexus holders between Port Huron and Sarnia,” he said. “We'd have longer delays, especially in the United States,” without them.
He said on average 600 Nexus holders drive into Michigan every day. “I assume the same number are coming back,” he said.
Chrapko said his organization has been promoting the use of Nexus cards. In fact, it hopes the number of cardholders in Bluewaterland will reach 25,000 by next August.
Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley said holding something like a Nexus pass may have an impact on some travellers.
“Certainly it can embolden people (to) think they are not going to get stopped,” he said. But easy crossing of the border is important in Sarnia because of the interconnections between the city and Port Huron.
“My concern is what the U. S. reaction will be (to the report), he said. “They were a hard sell on this to begin with and we already have that image that we are the soft link in the border crossing.”
Article ID# 1281544
Comments on this Article.
No matter what you use for id to cross the boarder or what lane you
use, you can still be asked to go to secondary check. So if you think
that you are getting away with anything it is like the old saying “sooner or later you will get caught” so don't mess it up for others and respect the privilege cards.
Post #1 By milly101, 1 day ago | 2 Votes | Vote: Thumbs Up Thumbs Down
Mr Coene says: “It goes against the concept of border security,” said Coene, who represents 180 local border staff. “It's a closed window concept. There is very little contact between the officer and the traveller.” Maybe the border security should be more like the U.S. and open the window and talk to people. As for not being sent to secondary…. I have been a Nexus user for 5 years and I have had my share of “random checks” at secondary. I love Nexus!!
Post #2 By caravanlady, 1 day ago | 0 Votes | Vote: Thumbs Up Thumbs Down
Caravan Lady–“Maybe the border security should be more like the U.S. and open the window and talk to people”……The officers aren't allowed too!
The officers bosses are also more lenient with those found with undeclared goods during the “random checks”.
Post #3 By neighbour, 1 day ago | 0 Votes | Vote: Thumbs Up Thumbs Down
'neighbour'–The officers aren't allowed to open their windows?? Odd when they are sitting there on a nice summer day with the window open, reading a magazine. I've been sent for secondary inspection's a number of times on both sides, and they didn't seem to have a problem opening the windows then.
This is nothing more than Mr. Coene stirring the pot during negotiations with the federal gov't. Their union wants the same kind of money as police forces, so any attempt (no matter how feeble) at making the border look porous without the “personal contact” is free game. As for his statement that smugglers and drunk drivers could whiz by them…please. The officer has the discretion to send anyone or everyone for secondary inspection. It is also easier, at this border anyhow, to whiz through the primary lanes instead of Nexus. Nexus has a gate, the primary lanes have nothing…just drive on through if you are brave (stupid??) enough.
Post #4 By Shipwatcher, 1 day ago | 0 Votes | Vote: Thumbs Up Thumbs Down
I believe this whole NEXUS program is a joke. Look at where we live, our proximity to the chemical industry and the high level of terrorism in this world. Also think of organized crime profiting daily by utilizing this system. Border security issues are at tremendous risk by utilizing this program at our borders. We live in a world of ease, utilizing control programs to assist our movement with ease and less contact with persons. Some aspects to our security as Canadians should be monitored by professionals and these professionals currently are employed at our borders. They have proven over and over again that person to person contact better serves Canadian Justice interests and Canadian Safety Standards. We have placed ease of access (NEXUS)at our borders and as far as Border Security this is unjust.
Post #5 By attache, 1 day ago | 0 Votes | Vote: Thumbs Up Thumbs Down
Hey Shipwatcher–WHILE IN THE NEXUS LANE, officers are not supposed to open their window, take declarations, or conduct any interviews with travellers. Now tell the officers how they are supposed to catch smugglers in those lanes???
I don't think it has anything to do with negotiations either. It's simply the union pointing out flaws in border security. Something more citizens of Canada should care more about rather than being able “ease” through quickly.
Post #6 By neighbour, 22 hours ago | 0 Votes | Vote: Thumbs Up Thumbs Down
Neighbour–given the info you are telling us, it is apparent you are a Customs Officer or have insider knowledge. I don't have the answers, but when I see the officer IN THE NEXUS LANE with the WINDOW OPEN, and when they send cars for secondary, then I'm not sure I completely believe they are as powerless as you make them out to be.
Also, what is this report?? The Observer doesn't say what it is. Was it a report done by the Mr. Coene and his union buddies over a couple of beers, was it a report commissioned by the Customs union, PSAC, or the Gov't?
I'm pretty sure this is a negotiation tactic. It seems the only time you read about Canada Customs is when they want something. They make the news when they walk (run) away from the job, eg. the mice in Sault Ste. Marie.
Post #7 By Shipwatcher, 20 hours ago | 0 Votes | Vote: Thumbs Up Thumbs Down
Related Article :http://thechronicleherald.ca/Front/1088036.html
Not a Customs Officer but know many who have no faith in the Nexus program.
Post #8 By neighbour, 20 hours ago | 0 Votes | Vote: Thumbs Up Thumbs Down
Whether it is a negotiations tool or not..does not matter in the entire realm of Canadian security. If you place a hole (ie.NEXUS) in any complete or fortifide program, reinforcement of the norm is and always will be compromised. Criminal enterprises and terrorism advocates will always take full advantage of any opening in security.
As with anything where a hole is created, that hole begins to fray and spread to create a larger, more uncontrollable process that needs to be continually adjusted, stitched or patched. Do away with NEXUS and allow the Border Security Agents interpersonal interviews with travellers entering our country. Although this alternative may cause extensive line-ups, too bad, the security of my nation and the citizens that call it home is worth the wait in the long run.