Social Question

Snarp's avatar

Why don't we open the border with Canada?

Asked by Snarp (11181 points ) April 30th, 2010

OK, there are lots of reasons, some legitimate, some simply disgusting and hateful, that we maintain some semblance of security at the border with Mexico, but basically none of those apply to the border with Canada. It’s a modern industrialized democracy with a strong economy and less crime than the U.S. has. If Europe can make agreements that enable open borders, then considering that even the problems Europe is having with that aren’t likely to exist between the U.S. and Canada, why can’t we come up with agreements regarding how each country handles customs and immigration with other nations so that we can open the border with Canada? Maybe it’s a drop in the bucket of the Federal budget, but surely we could save a lot of money by not maintaining border checkpoints, and it’s bound to be good for the economy. Maybe it’s Canada that doesn’t want us coming in with our American criminal tendencies?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

54 Answers

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

I was once told by a Canadian that crime rates were steadily increasing in his city because American gang culture and guns were filtering across the border. The Canadian government may have some good reasons for maintaining the checkpoints.

Pretty_Lilly's avatar

Two words: Drug Trafficking !

Snarp's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh That makes perfect sense, which would mean that America maintains checkpoints on it’s side simply as some sort of retaliation for Canada having checkpoints on their side.

Snarp's avatar

@Pretty_Lilly How exactly? Aren’t drugs illegal in both countries? For the record, I’m talking about this from the American side. We’re suddenly going to get more drugs coming in from Canada than are already produced here or brought in from countries where marijuana and coca can be grown in mass quantities?

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Very few Canadians would give up their citizenship to relocate to the USA permanently. We would appreciate fewer hassles crossing the border on visits or shopping trips but we would be unwilling to allow an uncontrolled influx of people entering Canada from the USA. Canada would want to select those wanting to immigrate to Canada on the basis of their ability to contribute to our economy and to live peacefully among us. Canada would want to limit the inflow of illegal drugs and those who produce and traffic them. Canada would want to exclude members of violent gangs.

marinelife's avatar

I think that with guns so rampant in this culture that Canadians would not want open borders.

Also, Canadian immigration laws are such that potential terrorists come through to the US via Canada so the U.S. does not want open borders either.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Snarp If the Americans didn’t have checkpoints there as well, it may be viewed as an admission that the fault is on their side. The other reason is that European countries are quite small, so a single body can more easily patrol multiple countries. The US and Canada are two of the world’s largest countries by land area, so it can act as a double check mechanism to make sure no one is immigrating through loopholes in each others laws.

wilma's avatar

I have never had any trouble traveling to Canada and getting back home. I don’t mind the checkpoints at all.

I think @Dr_Lawrence and @marinelife are both right. You could substitute US for Canada and Mexico for US in both of their statements.
They both express reasons why the US border with Mexico should be very secure. (Obliviously it currently is not.)

I find it strange that some folks think it’s OK for Canada to have a closed boarder with the US but not have the US have a closed border with Mexico.

jersonsteiner's avatar

because there’s gonna be lots of illegal immigrants which would lead to repression and violence

thriftymaid's avatar

If I remember correctly, the border with Canada was tightened after 9–11, not because we didn’t want Canadians coming across.

Snarp's avatar

@thriftymaid Right, because we thought Canada would let terrorists in, who would cross the Canadian border, hijack an airplane, and fly it into a building. Because Canada doesn’t have airports~.

thriftymaid's avatar

@Snarp It’s not up to Canada to let terrorist into the USA. That’s our job and this was an attempt to do just that. I remember reading that most middle easterners come into the USA via Canada.

wilma's avatar

@thriftymaid is correct.
It is harder for me to get back into the US than it is for me to cross into Canada.

Unless I want to do some work in Canada, that is not allowed.
Canada protects it’s workforce from outsiders taking their jobs.

dalepetrie's avatar

It’s pretty simple when you think about it. If we have an open border with ANY other country, no matter how friendly our relations are with that country, then our border policy essentially becomes whatever their country’s border policy is. I’m not really sure if Canada’s border policy is more or less strict than the US, but that really doesn’t matter, because the point it, it COULD become far less strict, even if isn’t now, if the Canadian government were ever to decide to open up its borders to anyone who the US wouldn’t open its borders to, and then essentially we’ve lost our ability to set our own border policy.

Note, I don’t endorse US border policy…my belief is that border restrictions in the US should be loosened significantly, but what I believe isn’t the point…the point is, the US has, for whatever reason, a strict border policy, and it doesn’t want to cede control of it to ANYONE.

And fwiw, I went to Mexico one time, walked across, I thought it was hilarious that I had to pay a toll to walk across the bridge…it was 25 cents to get into Mexico. But, it was 50 cents to get back into the US. That about says it all regarding US border policy if you ask me.

JLeslie's avatar

It’s not like you need a special visa to cross the border if you are American or Canadian. I just show my passport and drive across. Isn’t that similar to the EU? They need to have EU passports to cross borders still don’t they? Can the people who live in the EU countries work and live in any of the EU countries? I didn’t think they could? Are you talking about Canadians being able to work in the US and vice versa?

Snarp's avatar

@JLeslie There is no passport control between EU nations, no ID check, no stopping, no customs. And I believe you can work anywhere in the EU with an EU passport.

JLeslie's avatar

@Snarp There is no passport control? Interesting. So if I fly into Italy I can go to Germany like I go from Florida to Georgia?

Snarp's avatar

@JLeslie Well, more like going from Florida to South Carolina, but yes.

JLeslie's avatar

@Snarp I did not realize. I have not been to Europe in so long – obviously. It seems like Canada and the US could have a similar agreement, although I think a lot of people would come down to the states, especially in the winter months, they already do. But, the EU created a new currency and took several steps to get to that point regarding government and laws. It’s not just a matter of opening up the borders.

wundayatta's avatar

Used to be you didn’t need a passport to get to Canada. I think this is a sad state of affairs. I also don’t think security is enhanced by either this or the long lines at airports.

Yetanotheruser's avatar

@JLeslie yes, there is that “little Austria thingie” there

Snarp's avatar

Thanks for the responses. As I see it the reasons given above can be summarized as:

1. We don’t trust Canada’s border control policies with other nations.
2. Reciprocity. Canada doesn’t want open borders because of our gangs, drugs, and (I think most importantly) lax gun laws, and we can’t have a one way system.

Surely these are not insurmountable obstacles? It seems to me that we have had far more difficult diplomatic negotiations than what it would take between the U.S. and Canada to make this work. I still think the European situation was far more difficult than this would be. The small size of European countries actually makes it a bigger problem than the U.S./Canada situation. There are many more overland borders between E.U. countries and non-E.U countries, and the distance between E.U. countries being so small leads to a high likelihood of border crossers from one E.U. country ending up in another.

I think this can be done, and is a worthwhile diplomatic endeavor to be involved in. Let me suggest two other reasons that it’s not being discussed:
1. Fear of losing votes due to NWO/NAFTA/North American Union conspiracy theories.
2. Fear of a flood of Americans to Canada to avoid serving in any unpopular war (reciprocity once again plays a role).

Anyone think that politically speaking, these may be more prominent issues?

Snarp's avatar

@JLeslie I think, and I may be wrong, that the E.U. countries opened their borders before going to the Euro. Surely a single currency is not in any way necessary to open borders?

JLeslie's avatar

@Yetanotheruser Although, admittedly, my knowledge of European geography is far from perfect, I think you all assumed driving or train, and I just meant traveling from one country to another like one state to another. Since I used two states that border each other I see why you assumed I was not including flying.

JLeslie's avatar

@Snarp I am curious, you mention saving money on checkpoints, that is an obivious saving. How exactly do you see it helping our economy?

I agree currency is not necessary, but I think it is helpful. I think the EU has an understanding about laws of each others countries or something? I remember it from an old fluther thread.

Snarp's avatar

@JLeslie The more open the borders, the more people cross them, the more money flows back and forth. I imagine that in sum it will create more economic activity in both countries, particularly near the border. I realize it’s currently not the most difficult crossing, but there ought to be at least some economic benefit by opening it further.

JLeslie's avatar

@Snarp I wonder if we have “fast passes” for people who go back and forth every day. My husbands’s cousin’s children go to school in the US and live in Mexico. They cross every day, I think they have a special ID of some sort, it is no big deal. Maybe with NAFTA the borders are essentially open for business? At least the flow of goods. But, of course you would still need a working visa to work in the other countries. But, if you live in America as an American the majority of the time, I don’t think it is a big deal to work in canada also, like anyone who works internationally, but who is not technically an expat.

wilma's avatar

Yes @JLeslie they have “fast passes” they even have their own lane at the border. It really isn’t as difficult as you might think to cross back and forth from the US and Canada. Be truthful and not carrying contraband and you are fine.

Snarp's avatar

@wilma Unless you are a science fiction author, apparently.

wilma's avatar

I have never ever been stopped on my way out of a country.
You throw your bridge fare in the bin or pay the bored but friendly money taker and drive over the bridge. (or wait in the line to drive over the bridge depending on the time of day) The questions come when you are over the bridge and have to pass into the other country. I regularly cross at the Port Huron/Sarnia border.

JLeslie's avatar

@wilma If I remember correctly, it was a long time ago, flights from Canada to the US you go through US immigration while in the Canadian airport (someone correct me if I am wrong. That was from Toronto I think?? I’m not even sure it’s been so long). Last time I crossed I crossed by car at the Port Huron bridge, and the line to get back into the states took a while.

wilma's avatar

Any country I have even flown into I have gone though customs in the country that I am entering.
Same at a border crossing by car.

JLeslie's avatar

@wilma My memory might be wrong. Have you flown out of Canada to the US?

wilma's avatar

@JLeslie No, not flown from Canada to the US, but many other countries. It may have been that way at one time, and could be that way there now, but that has never been my experience.

JLeslie's avatar

@wilma I am only talking about Canada to US. It is the only time I have encountered it.

Lightlyseared's avatar

“Some sembelance of security”? The US-Mexico border is the most guarded border in the world. The Israel Gaza-strip barrier is nothing in comparison.

JLeslie's avatar

@wilma I just asked a friend in Toronto, and here was her answer “you’re right unless you’re leaving very early. Then US immigration would be at your destination. We’ve had 6:00 a.m. flights out of TO to FL and that’s been the case.”

faye's avatar

@JLeslie We went through US customs at Calgary airport for trips to Florida and Los Angelos.

Snarp's avatar

Anybody know what the border is like between Canada and Alaska?

Lightlyseared's avatar

@Snarp thousands of miles of desolate frozen tundra?

wilma's avatar

@Snarp I’ve only done that border from ship to Vancouver. Got off the Alaskan ship and did customs in Vancouver.

Snarp's avatar

@Lightlyseared There is a road. And some buildings of some kind.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

They wouldn’t want to come here. Why would they?

JLeslie's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Why do you say that? We have the better weather, they come here all of the time. Although their cities are very nice.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@JLeslie Oh, I guess I didn’t think about the weather – was just thinking about the lack of progressive values in a large area of the U.S. that Canadians have come to enjoy.

JLeslie's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I obsess about the weather LOL.

mattbrowne's avatar

If Germany and France can do this (and a lot of other EU countries), so should the US and Canada.

plethora's avatar

@Lightlyseared The US-Mexico border is also one of the most porous borders in the world…as a result of its 2000 mile length

Lightlyseared's avatar

@plethora no it’s not. There are shorter borders all over the place that have more illegal immigration across them.

plethora's avatar

@Lightlyseared I said “one of”

Lightlyseared's avatar

@plethora sorry its not even close. Just because it happens to be the one you care about doesnt make it the “most porus”

plethora's avatar

@Lightlyseared Whatever…our border with Mexico is still very pourous.

Answer this question

Login

or

Join

to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
or
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther