Asian Criminal and Terrorist Activity in Canada/border
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U.S.-Canadian Border Assessment
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U.S.-CANADIAN BORDER ASSESSMENT
Commercial Activity 
The U.S-Canadian border stretches approximately 5,500 miles. It is the longest undefended border in the world, as well as the busiest; each country is the other’s largest trading partner. In terms of proximity, about eighty percent of the Canadian population lives within two hours of the U.S.-Canadian border, making it an ideal staging ground to conduct activities in the United States.
With the advent of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994, the past decade has seen a significant increase in trans-border commercial activity. Canadian exports to the United States rose from US$121b in 1991 to US$242b in 2000. As an example of the continuing expansion of commercial activity, each day approximately 7,000 trucks cross the border at the Ambassador Bridge, connecting Detroit, Michigan with Windsor, Canada. The Ambassador Bridge is just one of 113 designated land crossings, 62 of which were unguarded at night as of October 2001.
Contributing to the problem, sparsely populated mountainous regions, prairie, and forest where in many places border demarcation is virtually nonexistent, comprise the vast expanse of the border. In comparison to Mexico, which has approximately 9,000 Customs, Immigration and Naturalization Service and Border Control personnel guarding the 2,000-mile United States-Mexican border, only 965 such U.S. personnel were guarding the Canadian border as of October 2001, and only 2400 Canadian Customs personnel were on duty.
According to a September 2002 article in The News Tribune [Tacoma, WA], only 346 U.S. Border Control agents were assigned to the U.S.-Canadian border, including the border with Alaska. This number averages out to one agent for every 16 miles, and represents an increase of only 15 people since September 11, 2001.
Given these conditions, the porosity of the U.S.-Canadian border represents a continued problem. Akwesasne Reservation Adding to the issue of border porosity is the use of the Akwesasne reservation as an illegal border crossing. The reservation, consisting of 14,000 acres, is home to the St. Regis Mohawk Indians. The territory reaches from Cornwall, Ontario, and Massena, New York, along 25 miles of the St. Lawrence River channels and 20 islands, to just north of Vermont.
The Mohawk Nation Council controls the entire expanse of the reservation’s territory. Although not recognized by either the government of the United States or Canada, the council has demanded and has been granted the right of the Mohawk people to have freedom of movement across the U.S.-Canadian border, as well as the right to transport goods across the border without controls or payment of taxes. This demand was granted with the condition that non-native people are not allowed to take advantage of the rights of movement and tax-free trade. Despite this requirement, the region is used as an illegal border crossing for Asian organized crime groups, among others and, therefore, constitutes one of the primary gaps in border security.
Although U.S. and Canadian authorities have the right to inspect the land for illegal contraband or persons crossing without permission, this right is often not exercised. Instead, a militant group of Akwesasne, equipped with stockpiles of small arms, acts as defenders of the land, exercising control over the individuals entering their territory.
The group receives its funding almost exclusively from the proceeds of criminal activities. The Walpole Island and the Niagara area also continue to be used by Asian organized crime groups as a convenient route to smuggle both contraband and people across the border, due to its geographic location between Ontario and Michigan at the mouth of the St. Clair River.
Immigration and Refugee Policy 
Canada’s immigration policy and entrepreneur program allow foreign nationals to enter the country with relative ease and become Canadian residents, thereby positioning themselves for easy access to the United States. Each year approximately 300,000 people are allowed entry into Canada, twice the number per capita that the United States allows in.
In addition, few restrictions apply to countries of origin for persons seeking entry into Canada. Unlike the visa waiver program in the United States, which grants entry without a visa to residents of only 27 countries, Canada grants visa-free entry to residents of nearly 60 countries. This number includes Greece, Mexico, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia. Canada relies on paper identification for immigrants, forged versions of which are available on the black market for roughly $1,000.
Those found to be misrepresenting themselves at the border do not face any ban. They are merely turned away and can attempt to re-enter the country immediately.
Asian criminal groups, especially those from China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan, as well as terrorist groups, exploit these policies.
A report in the Hong Kong Kuang Chiao Ching indicated that Chinese organized crime groups from these regions are increasingly using Canada as a base because of their ability to obtain legal residency in Canada relatively easily and then freely enter the United States.
Canada’s refugee policy has been very welcoming since the mid-80s. It was then that the Canadian Supreme Court broadened the definition of “refugee” by guaranteeing a hearing for anyone entering the country claiming to be a refugee, even if that person could provide no documentation. The new Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, which took effect in June 2002, does not challenge this right to a hearing without documentation, although it does implement a number of changes that make it more difficult for terrorists or international criminals to gain entry to or stay in Canada. The new Act requires a reasonable explanation for a lack of documentation and penalizes the failure to take reasonable steps to obtain such documents. In contrast to the situation in the United States, however, people rarely are detained because of lack of identifying papers. Even under the newly passed Immigration and Refugee Act, appeals are automatically heard.
Additional changes to the law include measures designed to detect fraudulent asylum applications and significantly harsher penalties for those caught smuggling people into Canada.
The process of determining a person’s eligibility for refugee status can take years, and even if a refugee claim is denied claimants often can stay in Canada if they declare that they will be put in danger when returning to their native country.
While awaiting a scheduled hearing, a refugee claimant is eligible for welfare or employment and is covered by the national healthcare system. Refugee claimants may also avail themselves of the public education system. The number of refugee claimants was 44,000 in 2001, up from 22,000 just three years before; the number of refugees allowed entry each year is now approximately 30,000.</ref>
However, possibly 60 percent of all claimants possess insufficient documentation or no documentation at all.
Hence, many just disappear, often skipping their asylum hearings, and enter the United States illegally. Currently over 25,000 arrest warrants are outstanding for those people who have skipped their asylum hearings.
The case of Lai Changxing serves as a rather typical example of such claimants. Lai entered Canada in 1999 after fleeing China to avoid arrest for having bribed thousands of Chinese officials with cash and women to protect a crime ring that smuggled an estimated US$6.4 billion in stolen vehicles, crude oil, weapons, and computers into Fujian province through the port of Xiamen.
Lai’s fake passport was not identified when he entered and settled in Canada, and he began associating immediately with Asian organized crime groups. Lai was apprehended on November 23, 2000, after Chinese officials had urged his arrest for 15 months, but he has not been extradited. Lai is likely to be executed for his crimes if he returns. It is believed that the Big Circle Boys gang and the Leun Kung Lok triad may have assisted Lai in transferring his assets to Canada after fleeing China.
Lai currently is out of jail after an immigration adjudicator found in June 2002 that despite his failed refugee claim and unsubstantiated RCMP reports that he was trying to obtain fake passports, he was unlikely to flee the country.
Canadian Ports 
According to a March 2002 article in the National Post, a Canadian Senate committee on national security, which met in February 2002, identified Canada’s ports as a breeding ground for organized crime and terrorism.
In 1996, when the government began to disband the port police service, private security companies began assuming security responsibilities at Canadian ports. The senate committee reported that 36 percent of employees in charge of going over manifest lists for cargo containers at the port of Montreal, 39 percent of the dock workers at Halifax, and 54 percent of the dock workers at the Charlottetown port had criminal records.
In addition, several ports do not have adequate identification requirements for employers nor do they have adequate security fencing. Organized crime groups reportedly exercise great control over Canadian ports and have been cited as major conduits for drug smuggling, the export and import of stolen automobiles, and the theft of cargo. Officials fear that terrorists could use the ports to smuggle a weapon of mass destruction into the country.
The committee additionally reported that the Chrétien government had been receiving warnings on the state of Canada’s ports for six years, but continued to ignore the advice of law enforcement officials.
Effects of September 11 
The terrorist attacks on the United States in September 2001 were a catalyst for bringing the issues of Canadian immigration policy and U.S.-Canadian border security to the forefront. In October 2001, Canada implemented its Anti-Terrorism Plan, and in December 2001 its Anti-Terrorism Act entered into force. Among other things, these two initiatives are designed to prevent terrorists from getting into Canada, secure the U.S.-Canada border, identify terrorist activities, and detect and deter the financing of terrorist ctivities.
Subsequent changes to the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Protection Act in June 2002 seek to remove some of the heretofore less stringent refugee policies by allowing for the removal of security threats sooner and the imposition of harsher penalties for people smuggling, as well as for people using or selling forged documents. US$200 million has been allocated to improve the screening of foreigners.
The Canadian Budget 2001, passed in December 2001, allocates CDN$7.7b over the next five years to provide funding for these initiatives. Other initiatives include the Canada- U.S. Smart Border Declaration and accompanying Action Plan for Creating a Secure and Smart Border, signed on December 12, 2001, and designed to protect the CDN$1.9 billion dollars garnered daily from legitimate border trade while ensuring its security from illicit activities.
This goal is to be achieved through enhanced coordination and by implementing border security systems that identify the most prevalent security risks to both countries’ infrastructures in terms of people and goods, while assuring the free and expeditious flow of people and commerce across the border.
Although geared toward preventing terrorist organizations from pursuing their objectives, these measures also hinder members of Asian organized crime groups that seek entry into the United States or Canada, as well as helping to prevent perpetration of cross border criminal activities. Nevertheless, the relatively recent implementation of these initiatives makes it unclear whether they will be successful at addressing the problems. Other issues also have been raised. A June 3, 2002 article in Insight on the News points out that certain changes to the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Protection Act may prove counterproductive in the fight against terrorism. Previously, the courts were able to exercise discretion regarding which refugee cases would be heard on appeal; amendments to the act now guarantee that any appeal made will be heard automatically, a change that has been criticized as enabling persons with false claims to remain within the country and jeopardize security.
Original footnotes 
- Jonathan Weisman, “Cigarette Black Market Feared; Canadian Tax Increase Led to Smuggling and Organized Crime Rivalry; Industry Complicity Alleged,” The Sun [Baltimore], May 10, 1998.
- Statement of James W. Ziglar Before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Treasury and General Government, October 3, 2001. <http://www.immigration.gov/graphics/aboutus/congress/testimonies/2001/10_03_01.pdf>
- Jack Kelly, “Quick, Easy Crossing a Thing of the Past at Canadian Border,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, October 14, 2001.
- Sean Robinson, “Northern Border Exposure; Increased Presence of Terrorists in Canada, Staffing Shortage at U.S. Border Patrol a Bad Combination,” The News Tribune [Tacoma], September 29, 2002.
- Jeffrey Robinson, The Merger: How Organized Crime Is Taking Over Canada and the World (McClelland & Stewart Inc: 1999), 58.
- LaVerle Berry, Russian Organized Crime and the Global Narcotics Trade (Washington: Library of Congress, Federal Research Division), March 2002.
- Criminal Intelligence Service Canada, Annual Report on Organized Crime in Canada 2001, Website: <http://www.cisc.gc.ca/AnnualReport2001/Cisc2001/coverpage2001.html>
- John Berlau, “Canada Turns into Terrorist Haven,” Insight on the News [Washington], June 24, 2002.<http://www.insightmag.com/news/254290.html>
- Jim Lynch, “A New Bond at Border,” The Oregonian [Portland], October 28, 2001, A1.
- “Asian Organized Crime,” International Crime Threat Assessment, 2000. <http://www.fas.org/irp/threat/pub45270chap3.html#r14>.
- Hsiao Yang, “China Steps Up Its Crackdown On the Mob And Severely Punishes Mob Leaders,” Hong Kong Kuang Chiao Ching, February 16, 2001 (FBIS Document CPP20010216000052).
- “Asian Organized Crime,” International Crime Threat Assessment, 2000. <http://www.fas.org/irp/threat/pub45270chap3.html#r14>
- Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. <http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/irpa/>
- Tom Cohen, “Canada Denies Bail to Chinese Smuggler,” Pittsburgh Post, December 6, 2000, A5.
- “Triad Link Alleged in Transfer of Millions to Accused Smuggler Lai,” Beijing China Daily [Beijing], December 4, 2000. (FBIS Document CPP20001204000045).
- Petti Fong, “Alleged Smuggler Allowed Home: Lai Changxing and Wife Released Despite Claims About False Passports,” The Vancouver Sun, June 29, 2002.
- The Canadian senate report also recommends that Canada increase military spending by $4 billion a year and increase the size of the military from 20,000 to 75,000. Canada currently spends approximately 1.2 percent of its GDP on defense, roughly half of what other NATO members allocate.
- James Baxter, “Current Senate Report Said To Confirm 1996 Warnings on Canadian Port Security,” National Post [Toronto], March 19, 2002 (FBIS Document EUP20020304000245).
- Allan Thompson, “Canadian Senate Report Says Ports ‘Fertile Ground’ for Terrorists, Notes Workers’ Criminal Records,” The Toronto Star, March 2, 2002 (FBIS Document EUP20020304000245).
- Canada Embassy in Washington, “Canada’s Actions Against Terrorism Since September 11th,” Washington, D.C.: 2003. <http://www.canadianembassy.org/border/backgrounder-en.asp>
- Canadian Embassy, “Canada’s Actions Against Terrorism Since September 11th,” Washington, D.C.: 2003. <http://www.canadianembassy.org/border/backgrounder-en.asp>