Keep focus on improving border security

Democrat and Chronicle

Editorial

While there has been major progress toward tightening security along the U.S.-Canadian border in New York since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, still more work is imperative.

Too many forget that the 4,000-mile-long northern border, which spans 400 miles across New York, is the longest nonmilitarized border in the world. Fortunately, that’s not lost on members of upstate New York’s congressional delegation who pushed hard for security improvements.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, in particular, has consistently sought tighter border security since the attacks. Most recently, as chairman of a Senate Judiciary subcommittee on border security, he’s successfully pushed for military-grade radar technology to detect low-flying planes that could smuggle terrorists. The radar feeds are to become operational in November.

Meantime, a team of federal, state, local and Canadian law enforcement personnel sought by Schumer will soon be based in St. Lawrence County to help improve border security. Remember, 75 miles of the border is land in remote northern New York. It’s notable, too, that U.S. northern border personnel have increased from 2,000 employees before 9/11 to nearly 10,000 now.

These are, of course, all positive developments. But still the White House has not submitted to Congress a comprehensive northern border security strategy that was due in July. And there remains considerable angst about Canadian policy, which prohibits entry into Canada of individuals linked to terrorist activity. A much more restrictive U.S. policy denies entry to anyone suspected of terrorist activity.

Major border security progress is indisputable. Still, weak links must not be marginalized. Upstate lawmakers must not rest until they’re addressed.