As of yesterday, Americans and Canadians crossing the longest continuous land border on the world require a passport or equivalent document before being allowed to actually cross. The usual arguments on security, control of national borders, the post 9/11 world have all been trotted out to justify this development. Yet, to the Border-crosser at least, this seems, sadly, another step backwards for cross-border co-operation.
How can the introduction of such travel restrictions on a border long regarded as one of the most fluid in the world be necessary, when Europe is moving rapidly in the other direction? Is Europe less safe as a result of Schengen? Is being able to travel from the south of Portugal to the north of Finland without the need for a passport a fundamental danger to our continent? And, since the answer to both questions is no, what is going on?
It seems that North America, essentially driven by the USA of course, is over-reacting to the events of recent years. As a result, North America has become a little bit more closed, a little bit more divided, and a little bit less co-operative than it was. This piece, on Alaska-Yukon border crossings makes the point rather well: http://newsminer.com/news/2009/jun/02/island-effect/