On Monday, October 8, 2012, it was announced that Canada and the United State have entered into a preliminary agreement that would allow Buffalo bound trucks preclearance in Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada. This new initiative which seeks to improve traffic flow across the Peace Bridge would allow U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to inspect trucks in Fort Erie, Ontario before reaching the Peace Bridge Plaza. This plan is only in the experimental stage and will occur for 18-months starting in December 2012. The Peace Bridge and another international border crossing in Washington State would only be involved at this point.
However, one piece of the initiative that still remains to be worked out is how to allow armed ICE and CBP officers to operate in Canada. The first option would permit U.S. officers to carry guns on Canadian soil but they would be subject to Canadian laws and regulations. The second option would allow Canadian law enforcement to accompany the U.S. ICE and CBP officers during the searches.
Regardless of the option chosen this new pilot program strives to (1) expedite traffic by eliminating long traffic lines at the Peace Bridge; and (2) encourage trade and tourism. By conducting the inspections in Fort Erie, Ontario, which provides greater room for the searches to occur, truck delays and bottlenecking at the Peace Bridge plaza would decrease.
This plan also helps as the Peace Bridge is looking into building a new inspection plaza on the U.S. side. By allowing preclearance on the Canadian side, it gives the design of the new plaza more flexibility and possibilities.
If this new initiative succeeds in the pilot program stage, then many people (including many U.S. governmental officials) hope that this change will become permanent.
If you have questions regarding entering the U.S. from Southern Ontario, Canada, or any other port-of-entry, contact Berardi Immigration Law to discuss your options.