The Hidden Dangers of the Northern Border

Cool clickbaity post headline, right? I was going to subtitle it “Build That Wall, Eh?”, but decided against it.

Beginning December 1, 2016; visitors to Canada from Mexico will be able to enter without a visa. Instead, the only requirement will be an “Electronic Travel Authorization” (eTA), which can be applied for online here.

pasaporte_mexicanoThe requirements for the eTA are a valid Mexican passport, a credit card, and an email address. It allows you to travel to Canada many times and allows you to remain in Canada up to six months.

Bievenue au Canada!

The Canadian eTA costs $7 CAD. Today that’s $5.18 US.

A flight from Mexico City to Vancouver can be had for $478.26 US. For reasons that will be clear shortly, let’s use a cheaper Mexico City to Montréal round trip for $421.46 US for our final math.

A Mexican passport valid for three years costs $1095.00 pesos, today that’s $52.56 US. A fifty percent discount is available for some people including the disabled and agricultural workers.

The total expense to be on the ground legally for up to six months in Montreal is $479.20 US.

mexicoflight2An estimated smuggler’s fee from Mexico to the US is $4,000 US ($9,000 by boat). If we use the lower $4,000 estimate, we’re in Canada very close to the United States border for $3,520.80 US less. Let’s round it to $3,500 to allow for a Cinnabon at the airport.

Now, entry to the United States from Canada for a Mexican citizen on a Canadian eTA isn’t something that will be allowed at United States border checkpoints.

So, for $479.20 you could be in Canada for up to six months but would still not be able to enter the US.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection states crossing into the United States without going through a border checkpoint is considered an illegal entry and is a misdemeanor:

Failure to enter through an open staffed port is considered an illegal entry and can result to you being fined and removed from the United States.

But I Want To Be In The United States Anyway

Since 9/11, there has been significant border strengthening between the United States and Canada. There are physical and electronic means to monitor crossings and deal with them in a suitable fashion.

Despite even more measures at the southern border, many in the US are obsessed about the need for a physical wall across the southern border of the United States and are fearful of how porous that southern border remains despite being monitored more stringently by a large measure.

Back on topic, let’s assume we’re already in Montréal and want to be in the United States.

Public transportation from Montréal to Stanstead, Québec is about $102 US. Add that into the above total, and we’re sitting at $581.20, still a significant savings from $4,000 though.

Why Stanstead?

Stanstead, QC and Derby, VT

Cross Border Reading (Photo: Martin Beaulieu)

Cross Border Reading
(Photo: Martin Beaulieu)

The US and Canadian border is straddled by the physically combined towns of Stanstead and Derby. You used to be able to wander into the library and jump back and forth between countries or straddle the border like a tourist at Four Corners (by the way it’s NOT the “real” geographical Four Corners).

Since I’ve been there, it looks like some streets have been barricaded, but if you use Google Street View, you can clearly see where access is not physically restricted.

So, if you were looking to slip into the United States permanently, if illegally, Stanstead would be a logical but not smart place to attempt a crossing. There’s a description of border crossings and the rules here.

Wow There’s A Lot Of Woods Around Here, Man

border_dirtbikes

Dirt bike paradise

I’ve heard of a spot in New Hampshire where, many years ago, a small group of devilishly handsome and highly skilled brosephs could ride their dirt bikes all day. One of them clearly had world class skills and was better than the rest, but he remained humble and rarely rubbed it in.

Using the sweet border clearing two track as a high speed transfer highway to trails branching off into New Hampshire and Québec saved a lot of time and was a good place to get into to sixth gear. Or, for the less skilled, perhaps fourth.

After riding all day, those brosephs could hang out in their trucks loaded with dirt bikes and have a few Mooseheads (only hosers drink Molsons Canadian) for an hour or so.

None of them ever heard from the border patrol responsible for either side of the border during the act of riding or afterwards.

That was a lot of years ago, but if you look at today’s satellite image, the area remains heavily wooded and remote.

Cameras And Sensors, Dude

Logistically from a border security standpoint, the sight lines for a forested environment versus a desert environment are dramatically reduced. So, any visual surveillance other than though heat based technology is severely crippled.

Besides, all the emphasis has been and may continue to be on the southern border based upon the campaign promises of the successful candidate and the chanting of his fans at rallies.

If you have some time, use Google Earth to traverse the entire border between the United States and Canada. Even ignoring the Great Lakes, look at the images of the northern border and imagine how easily that border could be crossed without breaking a sweat.

Build The Mexican Border Wall

Since a number of voters approaching a majority made it clear border security with a physical wall is a priority, the new administration has made it clear it is a priority for them as well.

untitled-1We’re not sure if they were aware of the impending flood of Mexican immigrants coming across the northern border because of the dramatic change in visa requirements announced last December.

After his initial call to wall the entire border,  Trump later decided to say he’d use some of the existing fence, despite the inadequacies, and reduced his proposal to wall to about 1,000 miles.

Israel, with slightly cheaper labor costs, has built 320 miles of their barrier with the West Bank at a cost of $2.6 billion.

Israel is paying $8.125 million per mile. Because only about 10% of the Israeli wall is concrete, their total cost per mile doesn’t really translate effectively to a big beautiful 100% concrete wall.

Trump estimated his truncated hut still yoooge and beautiful wall between Mexico and the US would cost between $9 and $12 billion to construct. MIT calculated the same wall at between $27 to $40 billion. Let’s use $12 billion as the total cost, because MIT is a leftist think tank prone to mistakes, but the Trump estimate has been said to be low by many other sources. But, it works for this argument, no need to exaggerate.

Build The Northern Border Wall

The cost per mile for “the northern wall” we’ll use is $12 million (12 billion divided by 1,000 miles, easy).

mountiesThe northern border between the United States and Canada is 5,525 miles long. The best information available states there is 2,380 miles of water is included, and the border with Alaska is 1,538 miles. Let’s back out the water border, although of course SOMEBODY has to deal with those 2,380 miles open to travel, but for now let’s deal with “the wall”.

The remainder of the border that needs to be walled is 3,145 miles, a little over three times the proposed $12 billion southern wall. Even if we figure no Mexicans will want to go to Alaska, we’re still left with 1,607 miles of wall to build AND a whole lot of inadequately protected water and northernmost border.

That means the cost of even minimally increasing security to where it was before the liberals in Canada decided to let Mexicans have similar travel privileges as Americans would be at least $19,284,000,000.

Canada Will NOT Pay

Despite protestations to the contrary, the likelihood of another sovereign nation paying for infrastructure spending of another sovereign nation is remote.

So, where would the money come from to pay for the new wall despite lower taxes for the top earners in the US?

Got me. Maybe it should become a new thing to say “Thanks, Trudeau!” since the old thing is due to expire in a couple months?


Canada to lift visa requirements for Mexico – 06/28/2016

Apply for an Electronic Travel Authorization

Havocscope – Prices Charged by Human Smugglers

openborders – Human Smuggling Fees

Wikipedia – Mexican Passport

MIT Technology Review – Bad Math Props Up Trump’s Wall – 10/18/2016