Valley News Live investigates: northern border security

Published: Nov. 7, 2016 at 6:16 PM CST
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We’ve been hearing for the better part of a year now each presidential candidate’s position when it comes to border security. But that’s down at the U.S. – Mexico border. What about our northern border? Is it secure, and who or what is coming across from Canada?

For years, the 9/11 Terror Attacks on New York, the Pentagon and Flight 93 have been the rallying cry for those wanting more secure borders. And the fear is that it could happen again.

But we’ve been hyper focused down at the U.S. – Mexico border, thanks in part to Donald Trump.

“We are going to build the wall 100% and Mexico is going to pay for the wall don’t worry about it,” said Trump at a campaign rally in September.

A former leader of the border patrol said in front of Congress in 2011 that “it’s commonly accepted that the more significant threat comes from the U.S. – Canada border” rather than the U.S. – Mexico border. Concerns over security prompted U.S. Senators to ask for a report: “The State of America’s Border Security”. Some shocking findings of the report? We’ve spent more than $100 billion and the border’s still not keeping illegal drugs out. The report cites the 9/11 Commission Report, namely that terrorists have already exploited the U.S. immigration system. Add to that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) cannot find close to one million people who’ve entered the U.S. through visa waivers.

"We have 861 miles of border that the grand forks sector is responsible for,’ said Aaron Heitke Chief Patrol Agent for the Grand Forks Sector.

The Grand Forks Sector is just one portion of the country divided up, covering North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin. I asked him about Trump’s comments, and if we need a wall up north.

“You know there's not a reason to put a wall, fence that heavy infrastructure,” responded Heitke.

Chief Heitke said they actually see more drugs being funneled north across the border than out of Canada. And despite the empty country they patrol, there’s not a mass flood of people looking to head south into the U.S.

“Narcotics are always around and they're always part of our job. But our main focus is going to be and the main priority is going to be terrorism to make sure that one person doesn't get in that wants to do something very bad,” Chief Heitke said.

Canada is no stranger to ISIS. They’ve dealt with gunfire erupting inside the Canadian Parliament, people arrested trying to leave the country to join ISIS, and a failed $16 million project to screen Syrian refugees that according to the CBC “did almost nothing to catch refugees who might be linked to criminal or terrorist groups.”

About a year ago, a shooting rampage in San Bernardino, California left 14 dead as those responsible pledged allegiance to ISIS on social media. In June, another Islamic State terror attack here at home left about 50 more people massacred at a Florida nightclub.

The fear is the next attack will be carried out by someone coming across an empty border.