U.S.-Canadian projects to shore up border are under way

U.S.-Canadian projects to shore up border are under way

The Customs Service and the Canadian Customs and Revenue Agency have begun a pilot of an intelligent transportation system that uses Global Positioning System data to monitor ships in the St. Lawrence Seaway.

The pilot is one of several initiatives the U.S. and Canadian governments are pursuing under the Smart Border Action Plan signed by the two countries in December.

President Bush and Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chr'tien yesterday said during their meeting in Detroit'the busiest border crossing between the two countries'that new programs to improve border security had been launched or are on track.

Besides the seaway monitoring pilot, the Free Secure and Trade program yesterday began registering companies that transport commercial items across the border.

FAST will accelerate many cross-border commercial shipments by reducing the information necessary to meet customs requirements, dedicating lanes at major crossings to FAST participants and limiting physical examinations. Six crossings along the U.S.-Canada border will begin using FAST in December.

Bush and Chr'tien also discussed the Nexus alternative inspection program, which began yesterday in Detroit. Similar to FAST, the program allows border officials to speed the processing of prescreened, low-risk travelers. Canadian and U.S. agencies will issue photo identification cards to approved travelers, who will have their own dedicated border-crossing lane.

Customs, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, and the Citizenship and Immigration Canada are participating in this program.

Additionally, the two countries agreed to share passenger information and records concerning high-risk travelers. The data-sharing program will begin next spring. Meanwhile, the FBI and Royal Canadian Mounted Police will implement a system for exchanging criminal records.

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