Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Border Policy


In the name of greater security, we're apparently going to soon be demanding passports at the Canadian and Mexican borders. Which, in my opinion, will do all of nothing to improve security.

I had a thought, while consulting on a recent trial, that for all of our lip service about "homeland security", the continued failure of the "war on drugs" highlights its futility. The case involved thirty kilograms of pure cocaine, and an even larger quantity of piperonyl (a precursor for ecstasy), which was being shipped from California to Quebec in the back of a semi. (Drug smugglers can be very clever in disguising drugs, but in the case at hand they just put the undisguised bundles into a carboard box, and loaded it at the back of the truck behind the palates being shipped across the country.) Obviously, this shipment didn't originate in the United States. Why was it intercepted, only a few miles from the border? The truck driver crossed the fog line a couple of times while being observed by State Police Motor Carrier Officers, and they decided to perform a safety check.

So about 150 pounds of undisguised contraband can make its way into the United States, and almost across the country. It was detected by chance. Had even cursory disguise been used, it might not have been detected at all. So why is it that I don't think more stringent ID checks at the border will have a significant impact on national security, if we can't keep tens of thousands of pounds of similar contraband from entering our porous borders every year?

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