A Brief News Commentary by Doug Draper
Posted February 3rd, 2017 on Niagara At Large
Those of us who live north of the U.S. border had to know it was coming when Donald J. Trump took the oath of office as the 45th president of the United States.
Americans are living in a state of “carnage.” so says the new president, and it has quite a bit to do with his ‘alternative facts’ that ‘virtually every other country around the world’ is taking advantage of the United States, threatening the U.S. and its people with violence, or otherwise ripping it off.
In this us-versus-them world Trump lives in it was only a matter of days following his January 20th before he would set his sights on the Canadian border and he is doing so already with the revocation of at least some Nexus cards on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border and plans – according to another one of those infamous ‘executive orders’ he’s been signing since entering the White House – to require all Canadians to undergo “biometric tests” when crossing the border into the United States.
This involves fingerprinting or iris (eye) scanning for all Canadians attempting to travel to the United States – an exercise that even Western New York area Republican Congressman Chris Collins – a strong supporter of Trump through his presidential campaign – is now warning in a February 2nd letter to U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly could be damaging to the economy of communities in his district.
“Western New Yorkers and our economy rely heavily on the timely movement between Canada and the United States via the Peace Bridge,” stated Collins in his letter. “While keeping our communities safe is my number one priority, I want to ensure that before any agency implements the biometric exit-entry system fully, we examine all possible transportation impacts and take steps to alleviate any disruptions that may be created.”
” The border crossings in New York facilitate over $30 billion in bilateral trade between the state and Canada annually, and Canadian tourists spend over $1.6 billion in New York each year,” Collins added. “Biometric entry-exit scanning at our northern border would significantly delay the daily commutes of hard-working Americans and Canadians and cause undue burdens on trade.”
Buffalo area Congressman Brian Higgins, a Democrat, has also gone on record opposing the biometric tests at border crossings, which Trump’s executive order calls for an “expedited implementation” of or possibly as soon as the equipment for doing them can be put in place at border bridges.
On the Nexus card front, CBC reported earlier this February 3rd that Trump’s executive order and travel ban have already been followed by at least two individuals – one a person of Syrian origin who lives in Toronto and regularly does business in the U.S., and another an American – having their Nexus cards revoked for reasons that remain unclear.
Is the Trump administration planning to zero in on all Nexus card holders, and not just border crossers with links to the travel ban countries of Syria, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Libya? According to the CBC report, that too remains unclear.
“Asked if the executive order will impact Nexus members,” reads the CBC report, “the Canadian Border Services Agency could not provide a response.”
U.S. Customs and Border Protection,” continued the report, “would also not confirm a connection between the travel ban and the Nexus card revocations, or whether the Department of Homeland Security is reviewing the vetting process, or if having a passport from one of the listed restricted countries means they are no longer eligible for the program. …It would also not answer how many Nexus holders’ memberships have been revoked following the order.”
Two weeks into his presidency, Trump, like a rogue boar on a ramapage, is already hell-bent on insulting and angering countries around the world, including some of America’s longest and most loyal friends and allies like Australia. So as much as we’ve heard reports in recent weeks that he has not pinned a target on Canada, it is probably naïve of Canadians, right up to and including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, to think that he would not come charging at us eventually.
After all, this is an individual who has bullied his way to the top by using fear-mongering and scapegoating to pit one tribe of people against another.
One cannot help but wonder if Canada’s more generous immigration policies under the current Trudeau government when it comes to refugees from war-torn countries in the Middle East may be a pretext for Trump to wall off the Canada/U.S. border by one means or another. It may explain why Trudeau – beyond declaring in the wake of Trump’s Muslim ban that refugees are still welcome in Canada – is reluctant to come out and do what some other countries around the world have done and openly condemned the ban.
Whatever all of this sudden static at the Canada/U.S. border is all about, how sad it is that it is coming to this for two countries that have long taken pride in having one of the most open and friendly border crossings in the world.
In letters to the editor, on phone-in radio talk shows and out in the community at large, I have already heard a number of Canadians say they no longer feel comfortable crossing over the U.S. to shop, to visit friends or take a short vacation with Trump now in charge, and some of them have said they’ve decided not to set another foot on U.S. soil until he is out of office.
The way things are going, I suspect the number of Canadians who feel that way will continue to grow, which is sad for people and businesses on both sides of the Canada/U.S. border.
For a related story in the February 3rd, 2017 edition of The Buffalo News, click on – https://buffalonews.com/2017/02/02/collins-takes-stand-biometrics-border/ .
Read the CBC story on Nexus cards by clicking on – http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/nexus-cards-revoked-1.3964819 .
NIAGARA AT LARGE encourages you to join the conversation by sharing your views on this post in the space below the Bernie quote.
A reminder that we only post comments by individuals who also share their first and last names.
For more news and commentary from Niagara At Large – an independent, alternative voice for our greater binational Niagara region – become a regular visitor and subscriber to NAL at www.niagaraatlarge.com .
“A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders