More Trucks Face Turnarounds at the Border

VANCOUVER, BC — Truck turnarounds at the Canadian-American border might become more common and occur more often as a result of a new Northern Border Strategy.

On June 5th, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the new strategy, which would align processes at each of the 120 border crossings.

The new strategy aims to increase focus on information sharing and co-operation between law enforcement agencies on both sides of the border.

“This information is meant to assist the border patrol in making judgments for entry,” said Janet Napolitano, head of the DHS.

The U.S. already has access to Canadian criminal record data, except now they want to update their infrastructure in order to gain access to more information digitally. The new standards will also allow DHS to receive information from Canada’s immigration offices about temporary residents

Although the Northern Border strategy states that one of its main goals is to “safeguard and encourage the efficient flow of lawful trade and travel,” not everyone thinks the strategy is for the best.

Express Pardons Canada, an agency that assists Canadians with criminal records, said the new strategy may cause truck drivers who want to cross the border into the U.S. more problems and turnarounds.

“Every year, we process thousands of applications for U.S. travel waivers for those who wish to enter the United States while holding a criminal record,” said Jared Church, the founder of Express Pardons Canada. “It’s more common than a lot of people realize,” he continued. “Approximately one in seven adult Canadians holds a criminal record, and when you cross the border, even if you’ve been pardoned in Canada, they can still hold you back if you don’t have a [U.S. travel] waiver.”

Although Customs and Border Protection agents only have access to Canadians’ current record data, Express Patrons Canada is concerned that, soon enough, border agents will have not only current record data but also historical criminal record data available. The company is concerned the change would potentially extend border delays and jeopardize the security of Canada’s private information.

“Every day we get calls from drivers who have, in some instances, crossed the border for years without any issue. Suddenly, and seemingly out of the blue, a criminal record from decades -ago gets them turned back,” Church said.

Heightened border security has backed up traffic in the past, and as a result a Free And Secure Trade (FAST) pass was created. The FAST pass allows Canadian truck drivers with a clean record to be recognized as low-risk travelers.

“You can ask the people in charge of hiring for shipping companies. A lot of them have a hard time finding suitable drivers domestically. Requiring drivers to have no current criminal record is difficult, expecting them to have a spotless past makes it almost impossible,” Church said.

Canada and the U.S. have a trade partnership that sees 28,814 trucks and approximately $1.6 billion worth of goods crossing the border daily.

“A Canadian trucking and shipping business – and the Canadian economy – needs qualified men and women to cross the border daily. That’s one of the biggest reasons people come to us,” Church said. “A FAST pass is so valuable to Canadian truck drivers now. Businesses, and the Canadian economy, simply cannot afford to have Canadian goods turned around at the border,” he continued.

Have your say

This is a moderated forum. Comments will no longer be published unless they are accompanied by a first and last name and a verifiable email address. (Today's Trucking will not publish or share the email address.) Profane language and content deemed to be libelous, racist, or threatening in nature will not be published under any circumstances.