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Fact Sheet: 2012 DHS Northern Border Strategy

Release Date: 
June 5, 2012

The U.S.-Canada border is the longest common border in the world, and it joins two nations that enjoy one of the world’s strongest relationships. The border presents unique security challenges based on geography, weather, and the immense volume of trade and travel. At more than 5,500 miles, the border spans diverse terrains and climates, metropolitan areas and vast unpopulated space. Roughly 300,000 people and $1.5 billion in trade cross the northern border every day, representing the largest bilateral trade relationship in the world. With communities and businesses that reach both sides of the border, the economies and security of the United States and Canada are inextricably linked.

  • The DHS Northern Border Strategy (NBS) is the first unified strategy to guide the Department’s policies and operations along the U.S.-Canada border.
  • DHS’ strategy for the Northern border is built on the premise that security and lawful trade and travel are mutually reinforcing. Separating higher-risk traffic from lower-risk traffic, utilizing advance information, and inspecting people and goods bound for our shared borders at the earliest opportunity enables officials on both sides to expedite the processing of lawful travel and trade while preventing illegal crossings and activities, as well as diseases and dangerous goods from entering either country.
  • The NBS outlines three goals for DHS at the northern border:
1) Deter and prevent terrorism and other illegal activity;
2) Safeguard and facilitate the secure flow of lawful trade and travel; and
3) Ensure community resilience to natural and man-made disasters.
  • To accomplish these goals, DHS will leverage resources to improve information sharing and analysis within DHS, as well as with key partners. The Department will also enhance coordination of U.S.-Canada joint interdictions and investigations, deploy technologies to aid joint security efforts along the border, and continue to update infrastructure to facilitate travel and trade.
  • As outlined in the strategy, DHS will continue to work closely with federal, state, local, tribal, private sector, and Canadian partners that are so critical to the security, resiliency, and management of our Northern border. The NBS is consistent with the vision articulated by President Obama and Prime Minister Harper in Beyond the Border: A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness.
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