The Thin Watery Line: Plans under Way to Beef Up Porous Northern Border

By Magnuson, Stew | National Defense, September 2009 | Go to article overview

The Thin Watery Line: Plans under Way to Beef Up Porous Northern Border


Magnuson, Stew, National Defense


[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

DETROIT -- Capt. Fred Midgette, commander of the Detroit Coast Guard Sector, pointed outside his office window to a white pleasure boat that was speeding down the river.

"That guy could be in Canada before I could get a boat out of the slip if we were. interested in stopping him," he said.

Across the Detroit River is the city of Windsor, Ont. Between the two cities is an invisible line in the middle of the water marking the boundary between the two nations. At some points, only a few hundred yards separate the two river banks. It is a stark contrast to the U.S. southwest.

The southern border with Mexico is infamous for the thousands of economic migrants who illegally attempt to cross into the United States every month, murderous drug cartels that move contraband using automatic weapons and miles and miles of unforgiving desert that can claim the lives of those who don't respect it.

There's none of that here, of course. But the roughly 3,100-mile-long northern border comes with its own unique set of problems. Smuggling and illegal crossings occur here as well--the key difference is that it is bi-directional. People, drugs and money flow in both directions. And about 2,400 miles of the 3,100 are waterways.

"We can't have a wall here. It just doesn't work like that," said Midgette.

Nevertheless, the Department of Homeland Security and the Obama administration have signaled their intent to send more resources to the vast northern border. DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and her deputy Jane Holl Lute made trips to Canada to discuss border issues during their first few weeks in office. The funds spent here on sensor technology so far has been minuscule compared to the southwest. Congress added $20 million to install cameras along a stretch of river north of here and near Buffalo, N.Y., in the last budget. Now the new administration has proposed the same amount for 2010. Customs and Border Protection recently opened the Great Lakes Air and Marine Branch north of Detroit--the first of five planned such facilities that will comprise its Northern Border Air Wing.

Construction on the first permanent emplacement of cameras in the Detroit region is due to begin late this summer along the St. Clair River, a body that connects Lake St. Clair to Lake Huron to the north.

Border Patrol Special Agent Kurstan Rosberg and two other agents cruised on a 25-foot boat on a weekday morning along a stretch of the river that will be monitored by the new cameras by the end of the year, if all goes well.

The shores are dotted by wilderness, small towns, private homes and parking lots for small businesses. Only a few hundred yards separates the two nations here. Smugglers can dart across the water, unload contraband, or human cargo, to waiting accomplices on the U.S. side and be gone in a few short minutes. Or visa versa.

"That's the problem really. The places where they can unload are unlimited," Rosberg said. "It doesn't have to be a marina."

Generally, smugglers move Canadian grown marijuana, called B.C. bud, into the United States. Cocaine tends to travel north. Migrants or criminals who wish to avoid legal ports of entry cross in both directions. Another complication is the climate. The area transforms in the winter, meaning some lakes and rivers are frozen. That makes it easier for smugglers or migrants to cross on foot and harder for law enforcement to move around.

While this weekday saw a few scattered recreational fishermen, a summer weekend on these waters is another matter. There can be thousands of pleasure craft on the nearby Great Lakes, along the St. Clair River, and the Detroit River that connects Lake St. Clair to Lake Erie. Smugglers often use these busy weekends as cover. They quietly slip in among the recreational boaters, then cross the international line. Rosberg said the new cameras maybe be able to detect this kind of activity. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Thin Watery Line: Plans under Way to Beef Up Porous Northern Border
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.