DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano is tentatively scheduled to testify before the United States Senate Judiciary Committee about DHS immigration enforcement policies, tomorrow, May 6, 2009. Given Secretary Napolitano’s novel interpretations of federal law, the Heritage Foundation has posted a series of questions (and suggested answers) for the Secretary on issues including: Real ID, no-match data, detention and removal, citizenship services, work visas, drug cartels, workplace enforcement, E-Verify, and state and local cooperation.
While these questions have focused on immigration enforcement issues, Secretary Napolitano’s recent statements on the Canadian border should not be ignored. She recently emphasized to Canadian press that she thought both borders, the northern and the southern border with Mexico, should be treated the same in terms of security measures. But treating the borders the same doesn’t recognize the realities: that these borders are drastically different, with different challenges, different threats, and different political environments.
A good answer to the question of the Canadian border would not focus on the border itself—it is too much of an economic engine to harden it with security measures. A great idea would be to start with a U.S./Canadian joint threat assessment. Heritage’s Jim Carafano and scholars Sharon Cardash and Frank Cilluffo from the Homeland Security Policy Institute got together and suggested this idea last month. They point out that a joint threat assessment, conducted and published by both countries, could be a powerful protective tool. And since Canada and the U.S. already share information and intelligence, cooperate extensively on law enforcement issues, and work together to thwart potential air and sea threats—this type of information could be used effectively to ward off threats facing both countries.
The Senate needs to ask the right questions in tomorrow’s hearing. Let’s hope the hearing focuses on policy, not politics, and that the Secretary’s answer to Canada does not start with the border itself.