By Corey Williams
DETROIT — A new study suggests a "one-size fits-all" approach to border security following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks has helped slow trade and commerce between the U.S. and Canada.
A report by the Brookings Institution scheduled to be unveiled Tuesday in Detroit found that federal officials now treat security at Canadian and Mexican crossings into the U.S. the same, despite the differences between its southern and northern neighbors.
The Washington-D.C.-based research group began work on the study last year with the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce as the Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, is the busiest Canadian-U.S. corridor. It sees about 400,000 people each day and about 16 million cars, trucks and buses going back and forth each year.
The current border strategy has "emphasized uniformity, with one-size fits-all rules" that inaccurately equates conditions at the Canadian border with those "at the more difficult U.S.-Mexican border," the study found.
The U.S. auto industry comprises the biggest chunk of U.S.-Canadian trade, with daily shipments to and from Detroit's three automakers and suppliers. Security concerns following 2001 have resulted in long delays, with trucks often lined up at crossings for hours.
"We think there are unique situations of customer mix, geography, and really our history on the northern border that really requires a slightly different approach," said Sarah Hubbard, vice president of governmental affairs for the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Among them, she said, was the heavier foot traffic along the Mexican border.
The study makes several recommendations to ease the flow of people and goods across the border. The report suggests that President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper work together to improve collaboration between their countries, such as creating a state-level Homeland Security network. It also calls on Congress to authorize funds for a project to test new security ideas.
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The report's scheduled release will come on the same day Obama is set to visit Warren, a Detroit suburb.