Data-Sharing Enhances Mobility at U.S.-Canada Border

By Roy Maurer Feb 3, 2014

Approaching its third year, the U.S.-Canada Beyond the Border initiative has cut the time and cost of cross-border business-travel screening, reduced immigration fraud through better information-sharing, and strengthened enforcement of immigration laws, according to experts working on the binational plan.

Representatives from the White House and Canada’s Privy Council recently presented an update on the collaboration at the Wilson Center’s Canada Institute in Washington, D.C.

Announced in 2011, Beyond the Border is overhauling the way people and goods travel between the United States and Canada.

Among key accomplishments in 2013, the two countries:

  • Signed an agreement to share immigration information on third-country nationals. “We’re achieving real success in terms of sharing information,” said Amy Pope, director of border and interior enforcement at the White House’s National Security Council. How the two countries harmonize that information is the next challenge, she added. “How do we build on the tremendous success we’ve had with Canada? We’re looking at implementing what we’ve learned to our border with Mexico.” The data-exchange program is expected to expand this summer to encompass all travelers crossing the border by land.
  • Established a joint entry-exit program at all common land border ports of entry, by which the record of entry into one country is securely shared and becomes the record of exit from the other country for third-country nationals, permanent residents of Canada who are not U.S. citizens, and permanent residents of the United States who are not Canadian citizens. “This collaboration is significantly strengthening the integrity of each country’s immigration system by enabling each country to better identify people overstaying their authorized period of stay,” Pope explained. The agencies share entry records of approximately 10,000 to 15,000 travelers a day. “Long an important but elusive goal for the U.S., the success of the entry-exit pilot can’t be overstated,” she said.
  • Created more efficient and predictable border clearance processes for business travelers, including training front-line officers to improve the consistency of decisions at the border.
  • Increased membership in the NEXUS trusted-traveler program by 50 percent to more than 917,000. The NEXUS program expedites the processing of preapproved citizens or permanent residents of Canada and the United States at dedicated lanes at the border, at NEXUS kiosks in Canadian airports and at Global Entry kiosks in U.S. airports. “Much cross-border travel is business travel,” said David Moloney, senior advisor to Canada’s Privy Council Office. “We took a number of steps to make our trusted-traveler program more attractive by offering enhanced benefits, providing more access at the land border to dedicated lanes and giving extra access to privileged screening lanes at airports.” A future goal is expanding NEXUS membership to third-country travelers.

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Follow him at @SHRMRoy


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