Department of Justice Seal

Prepared Remarks of Attorney General John Ashcroft

U.S.-Canada Border Security Agreement Press Conference
December 3, 2001

Today, two great friends have united to form a common defense against a common enemy.

This afternoon I will fly to Ottawa to sign an agreement that strengthens security along the 3,000-mile United States-Canada border.

This agreement is the product of the extraordinarily close and cooperative relationship that has been built between United States and Canadian law enforcement. This relationship pre-dates September 11, but it has deepened in the months since then with the recognition that the United States and Canada have a fateful choice to make: Either we will stand together to combat terrorism, or we will fall together to those who hate our freedom and seek to see it extinguished. The United States and Canada have chosen to stand together against terrorism, and North America is a safer place as the result.

The accord we will sign today underscores our mutual commitment to ensure the safety of all Americans and Canadians while at the same time preserving the political and economic freedom our two nations enjoy.

With the conclusion of this agreement, border security and enforcement cooperation between the United States and Canada will undergo a sea change from local, state and provincial law enforcement to the highest levels of our two federal systems.

Joint teams of U.S. and Canadian law enforcement officials will both widen and deepen their enforcement of security along the border. We will expand our Integrated Border Enforcement Teams or I-BETS to cover more areas and target priority ports of entry such as here, in the Detroit/Windsor area.

This agreement also initiates a new era of coordinated visa policies between the United States and Canada. It increases the number of Immigration and Naturalization Service officers and Canadian Immigration Control officers who work overseas to detect and intercept inadmissible persons before they enter our two countries. We have agreed, as well, to redouble our efforts in joint training of airline personnel. We will enhance the sharing of intelligence in document fraud, irregular migration and criminal activity.

The North American front of the war on terrorism is more secure today as a result of this agreement. I thank my good friend Solicitor General Lawrence MacAulay, under whose leadership Canadian law enforcement has been a model partner with the United States. I also thank and acknowledge Deputy Prime Minister Herb Gray, whose hard work and dedication made this agreement possible.

Now I'd like to introduce Deputy Prime Minister Herb Gray.