The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee has eliminated what U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont called a "cockamamie" plan to consider building a fence or wall along the U.S.-Canadian border.I hadn't heard about this until now, as I pay zero attention to U.S. "homeland security" news. (About the same attention I gave it when I lived there.) The security industry must be disappointed about this one. Imagine the no-bid contracts, the hundreds of people who could line their pockets, the untold opportunities for graft. It would have been a boondoggle dream. Plus it would stop all the terrorists who are flocking into the US from Canada every day. What's that you say? There aren't any? Please don't sully our dream with facts.
Leahy said Thursday the proposal to study such a barrier along the world's longest unguarded border was stripped from pending U.S. Homeland Security legislation by U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., at the request of Leahy and others.
Leahy said he is still working to stop another regulation that Vermont business people say will practically shut down commerce with Canada. At the end of next year, Homeland Security will require Americans and legal immigrants traveling by land to Canada to have a special ID card or a passport to get back into the U.S.
The fence feasibility study was part of an immigration bill passed last year by the U.S. House and had been included in a similar version before the Senate Judiciary Committee, where Leahy is the ranking Democrat.
Homeland Security was asked to look at the feasibility of barriers on the Canadian border and on the nation's shorelines.
"I have heard some cockamamie ideas in my time in the Senate, but this one rises to the top," Leahy states in a prepared statement.
"All a fence does is alienate the best neighbor the United States has," he added.
The story notes:
The idea comes from lawmakers who think the Canadian border, at 3,145 miles, is like the Mexican border, he said in a telephone interview from Washington. "We Vermonters know. I can drive an hour from home (in Middlebury) and be in Canada."I'm also glad to learn that Leahy is trying to eliminate the need for passports for Canada-US land border crossings. That's a step in the right direction.
A fence or wall would hurt border communities like Derby Line, which shares a main street and the international Haskell Opera House with Stanstead, Quebec, Leahy said.
Many border residents have relatives in Canada, including Leahy's wife, Marcelle, a Newport City native whose parents were immigrants from Quebec.
When the new passport requirement was announced, although I didn't think it was necessary, I didn't understand why everyone wouldn't just get passports and use them. Now that I live much closer to the border, I understand it differently.
I can see how people who wouldn't normally have a passport wouldn't bother getting one for day trips or weekend visits. I certainly understand how it would kill commerce in dozens of border towns. I hope Leahy is successful in getting this silly decision reversed.
And thanks to my former Green Mountain boy for the story.