Everyday tales and stories from the border regions of Europe and beyond, with the aim of explaining why we border-crossers are as obsessed as we are about this subject, why it is important to all of us, and why the co-operation community needs a little bit more visibility than it normally gets.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

The borders of the United States

The USA may have only 2 land borders, but what it lacks in numbers, it more than makes up for in length. The border with Canada, at 8, 891 km is the longest in the world, while the Mexican border is certainly not the smallest at 3,169 km.

The American approach to these borders has always been very different, although the differences have narrowed somewhat since 11 September 2001. On the Canadian border they have the International Boundary Commission (http://www.internationalboundarycommission.org/) responsible for keeping the border demarcated; they also have the delightful Meet Me At the Border site (http://www.meetmeattheborder.com/) which is a very good information source for those living and working at or near the border. This would be quite a good idea for some of the larger European borders too.

It is interesting to note the increasing restrictions being introduced along this border from the point of view of travel documents and the evident concern being created, especially on the Canadian side about the impact of cross-border business. Contrast this with the advances brought about by Schengen in Europe and ask yourself which continent is heading in the right direction and which isn't...

In contrast, down south, we have sites like this - http://www.americanborderpatrol.com/ - which, scarily, seems to be one of the milder sites about border control issues with Mexico. Despite this, a bit of Internet digging threw up the "Agreement for Regional Progress" (www.sos.state.tx.us/border/arr.shtml) between Texas and 4 north-east Mexican states which is as close to a Euroregion-type declaration that I have seen in North America. Admittedly, the site was a little short on info since the signing in 2004, but I count any such agreement as grounds for optimism.

I do get the feeling that this is only scratching the surface on border issues across the Atlantic, and we may return to this topic in later posts.

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