ByÂ Seth McLaughlin-The Washington Times
The top two senators on theÂ Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee said Tuesday theÂ federal government has control of only 32 miles of the 4,000-mile-border withÂ Canada, providing terrorists with what could be an easier entry point than the southernÂ border.
Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut independent and committee chairman, said that the lack of a strong defense along the northern border is â€œabsolutely alarmingâ€ and that it leaves the American public â€œgrossly underprotectedâ€ from terrorist attacks, drug smugglers and other illegalÂ activity.
â€œTheÂ Department of Homeland Security has concluded that the risk of terrorist activity across our northern border is actually higher than across our southern border,â€Â Mr. Lieberman told reporters, after releasing a report from theÂ Government Accountability Office (GAO) that saidÂ DHScould do a better job of border defense. â€œThe report also finds that less than 1 percent of the border is under operational control â€” less than 1 percent of our northernÂ border.â€
The report found that the interagency task forces established byÂ DHScould do a better job of sharing information and making sure theyâ€™re not duplicatingÂ efforts.
Matt Chandler,Â DHS spokesman, responded by saying theÂ departmenthas â€œmade critical security improvements along the northern border, deploying additional Border Patrol agents, technology and infrastructureâ€ and is in the process of finalizing a â€œnorthern border strategyâ€ that will address some ofÂ GAOâ€˜sÂ concerns.
â€œDHS is also reviewing the inventory of interagency forums to assess efficiency and identify challenges, and [Customs and Border Protection] and [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] will continue to work together to improve coordination of northern border enforcement activities and ensure compliance with existing interagency agreements â€” addressing additional keyÂ GAOrecommendations,â€ heÂ said.
The northern border long has been overshadowed by its southern counterpart, thanks to the huge flow of illegal immigrants that has traditionally come from the south and the recent uptick in violence related to the drug trade betweenÂ Mexico and theÂ United States.
A new study released Tuesday by the Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan research organization in Washington, said that roughly 11.2 million illegal immigrants lived in theÂ United States last year, a number that remained virtually unchanged from 2009. The report represented a leveling off of the population after an 8 percent drop between 2007 and 2009, which many attributed to the poor economy and stiffer enforcement along the MexicanÂ border.
But with the southern border garnering most of the attention, concerns have been raised that its northern counterpart is beingÂ overlooked.
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