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Report: U.S.-Canada border security lacking

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • America's border with Canada is insufficiently monitored, according to a GAO report
  • The Department of Homeland Security needs to do a better job coordinating efforts along the Canadian border
  • There is a greater chance of a terrorist border crossing from Canada than Mexico, federal officials note

Washington (CNN) -- America's 4,000-mile border with Canada is poorly monitored and riddled with serious security vulnerabilities, according to a federal report released Tuesday.

U.S. authorities are routinely made aware of illegal border crossings along only one-quarter of the country's northern border, the report from the Government Accountability Office noted. Border Patrol agents reported that only 32 of the nearly 4,000 northern border miles in fiscal year 2010 "had reached an acceptable level of security," the report concluded.

At the moment, there is a "high reliance on law enforcement support from outside the border zone," the report stated. It called for the Department of Homeland Security to take on a greater role in coordinating various border control efforts, both to close security gaps and to promote a more efficient use of federal, state, and local resources.

Federal officials have expressed concern that a terrorist border crossing is more likely to come from America's border with Canada -- as opposed to the Mexican border -- due in part to the limited law enforcement presence along the northern boundary. They have also noted a growing presence of Islamic extremists in Canada.

"The numbers speak for themselves," said Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

"These findings should sound a loud alarm... The American people are grossly under-protected along our northern border," Lieberman added. "We've got to work together with our neighbors in Canada to raise our guard. We should at the very least be able to detect all illegal entries from Canada into the U.S. so we can get this information into the hands of law enforcement agencies that are well situated to make the necessary arrests."