- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 21, 2004

Canada border woes

Rep. Tom Tancredo is not backing down from his complaints about the “dangerously porous” Canadian border.

In a response to Canadian Ambassador Michael Kergin, the Colorado Republican recognized the positive steps that Canada has taken in conjunction with U.S. authorities to impose better control along the border.

“However, as a congressman and a citizen, my concerns are necessarily focused on what remains to be done to achieve a level of security commensurate with the threat to our nation,” Mr. Tancredo said in a letter to Mr. Kergin.

He noted that some Canadian officials share his worries about terrorists slipping into the United States. Mr. Tancredo cited David Harris, a former top official with Canada’s Security and Intelligence Service, as one Canadian who thinks the border is too open.

“While many steps have been taken on both our northern and southern borders, especially at the ports of entry, it is no exaggeration to say that both land borders remain dangerously porous,” he said, referring to the U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico.

“I think any reasonable observer would agree with this characterization, if he takes the time to actually examine firsthand, as I have, the several hundreds of miles of open border marked only by a cattle fence or less.”

Mr. Tancredo softened his criticism by contrasting the cooperation shown by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and other Canadian authorities with the problems that the United States has had with Mexico.

“Cooperative efforts on our southern border are made more difficult and problematic by the corruption engendered by the drug cartels within the Mexican military and among local police authorities in the border communities of Mexico,” he said.

Mr. Kergin wrote to Mr. Tancredo earlier this month to complain about comments the congressman made in a Fox News television interview.

“It has been a source of considerable frustration to Canadians to see themselves portrayed by public figures in the United States as ‘soft on terrorism,’” the ambassador wrote.

He criticized Mr. Tancredo for saying that Canada’s immigration policies are so weak that terrorist leader Osama bin Laden could apply for residency simply by changing his name and shaving his beard.

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Today

• Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, who meets Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. Tomorrow, he meets President Bush, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, Commerce Secretary Donald L. Evans, Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick and members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. On Wednesday, he meets congressional leaders and representatives of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He addresses the National Press Club at 10 a.m. Thursday.

• Nepal’s foreign minister, Bhekh B. Thapa, who meets administration officials and members of Congress. He also addresses the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Tomorrow

• Eduardo Bours, governor of the Mexican state of Sonora, who meets officials to discuss immigration issues.

• Thailand’s commerce minister, Watana Mujangsook, and deputy minister, Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara. They meet Senate leaders, attend a luncheon of the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council and hold talks with Commerce Secretary Donald L. Evans. They also will inaugurate the U.S.-Thailand Free Trade Agreement Business Coalition.

Thursday

• Mexican Energy Secretary Felipe Calderon Hinojosa, who joins Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta and Sen. Chuck Hagel, Nebraska Republican, for a meeting of the U.S.-Mexico Business Committee at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

• Milos Alcalay, Venezuela’s former ambassador to the United Nations, who resigned to protest the policies of President Hugo Chavez. He addresses the Inter-American Dialogue.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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