Somehow, under President Donald Trump, relations between the United States and Canada have managed to sour. You’d hope that Trump could manage not screwing up something as longstanding as the peaceful relations between the United States and the country’s northern neighbor — but those hopes aren’t entirely founded in reality.
Now, in the middle of the back and forth between Trump and Canada, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has released a new strategy for addressing identified threats associated with the country’s northern border. The existence of the codified strategy is itself not new, with its first version having come under President Barack Obama’s leadership, but Newsweek notes that “the language used in the 2018 border strategy appears to be markedly stronger than that used in the 2012 plan.”
Threats identified as associated with the northern U.S. border in the 2018 strategy include the flow of illegal drugs and the operations as a whole of transnational criminal organizations. The strategy also cites the possibility of “homegrown” terrorists from Canada making their way over the border into the United States.
There is, actually, an apparent recent real world justification for that portion of the DHS strategy. The Canadian Abdulrahman El-Bahnasawy sought to carry out terror attacks in New York City in the name of the infamous Islamic State terror group, before pleading guilty in late 2016 and being set for sentencing earlier this year.
The strategy also lays out a plan on the part of the U.S. to safeguard legitimate trade between the two countries in question — which is exactly the area that President Trump has cast some diplomatic sticks of dynamite recently.
His administration imposed steep tariffs on imported Canadian goods over which the nation’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has vowed to retaliate, as other countries targeted with tariffs by the Trump administration have.
It was in response to Trudeau announcing as much that Trump took to Twitter to rail against him as “meek and mild” and “dishonest & weak.” Trump did so after having left the annual G7 summit — which was held in Canada this year — early in order to attend his long anticipated summit with the North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. At that summit, in contrast to his behavior in Canada, Trump was warm and welcoming despite the fact that Kim is a mass murderer.
Meanwhile, DHS itself says their new northern border strategy “establishes a clear vision and concrete actions that will improve DHS’s efforts to safeguard our northern border against terrorist and criminal threats, facilitate the safe and efficient flow of lawful cross-border trade and travel and strengthen cross-border critical infrastructure protection and community resilience.” An implementation plan for the strategy will be developed “within 180 days of the strategy’s approval,” according to DHS.
Besides the direct tension with Canada, the new northern border strategy also comes as the president continues to hold to the line that there is a monstrous threat to public safety because there’s not yet a wall up between the U.S. and Mexico. Recently, in the administration’s ongoing efforts to crack down on immigration, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions went so far as to say that most victims of domestic and gang violence would no longer be eligible for asylum in the United States.
Thus, any action the Trump administration takes when it comes to border policy fits in a wider, grim context.
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