Cablegate: Us-Visit Stakeholders/Media Briefing in Montreal
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 MONTREAL 001484
DEPARTMENT FOR CA/VO/I JOHN COOK, WHA/CAN AND WHA/PA
DHS FOR US-VISIT ROBERT MOCNY
OTTAWA FOR CONS, PD AND DHS/ICE
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CVIS ELTN ECON PBTS CA
SUBJECT: US-VISIT STAKEHOLDERS/MEDIA BRIEFING IN MONTREAL
1. Summary. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) US-VISIT
Deputy Director Robert Mocny provided two US-VISIT briefings
on November 5 to stakeholders (shippers, customs brokers,
Canadian immigration officers) and media, respectively. All
attendees were provided a handout: "Fact Sheet: U.S. Land
Borders." The briefings went very well, and most attendees
appeared relieved to have it reiterated that Canadian
citizens who do not need visas are not yet subject to the
program. Post is considering the possibility of holding a
followup US-VISIT digital videoconference (DVC) with
stakeholders not included in the November 5 briefings.
(Notetakers were ConSec Officers Stephen Ashby and Maya
Harris.) End summary.
2. Stakeholders Briefing. Mr. Mocny described the
methodology and implementation schedule for the US-VISIT
program. He cited four key DHS goals for US-VISIT:
- To enhance security of U.S. citizens and visitors
- To facilitate legitimate trade and travel
- To ensure integrity of U.S. immigration system
- To protect privacy of visitors
Mr. Mocny also detailed to stakeholders the Congressional
mandates driving the US-VISIT implementation and the methods
for redressing any errors that visitors may find in US-VISIT
records pertaining to them.
3. Stakeholders' Briefing: Questions and Answers.
a. What provisions are being made for exit recording and
Answer: None will be immediately put into place, but the
plan is to test radio frequency (RF) checking of "exit
receipts" at 7 trial ports of entry (POE) in June-July 2005.
Future plans include biometric verification of exiting
b. What about passports that get stolen before biometrics
are established at a POE for an individual?
Answer: If the perpetrator used the stolen travel document,
he/she would be biometrically recorded. Subsequently, when
the legitimate traveler is screened, the traveler would be
required to prove identity while in the secondary interview
and the bad guy would be added to the impostor watch-list.
c. What prevents terrorists from just using Canadian IDs to
Answer: We rely on Canadian officials to safeguard against
terrorists and other bad guys getting legitimate
identification (ID). Inspectors also guard against their
d. Will US-VISIT profile any race or ethnicity?
Answer: No. Everyone, except U.S. and Canadian citizens who
do not need visas, must be screened.
e. So, Visa Waiver Program folks will undergo US-VISIT, even
f. Will US-VISIT increase information sharing between U.S.
and Canadian security and law enforcement?
Answer: Not formally, but all the current information-
sharing arrangements still apply.
4. Media Briefing. Media representation included most major
organizations, such as CBC, The Gazette, TQS, Le Devoir and
Canadian Press. US-VISIT Deputy Director Robert Mocny
provided an overview of the basic elements of the US-VISIT
Program, outlined the DHS goals in US-VISIT implementation
and summarized the program's applicability for prospective
5. Media Briefing: Questions and Answers.
a. Why were airports the first to implement US-VISIT?
(Note. The reporter who posed the question stated that if
she were a terrorist or anyone else attempting to escape the
notice of border officials then she would "definitely
attempt to enter the U.S. via land." End note.)
Answer: Mocny stated that DHS adhered to deadlines decided
by the U.S. Congress after the law making body appropriated
$100 million for the program. Mocny listed the deadlines,
beginning with the benchmark December 31, 2003, date to
launch US-VISIT at all Canadian airport POEs, then the 17
busiest land POEs by December 31, 2004, followed by all POEs
by December 31, 2005.
b. How will US-VISIT affect landed immigrants and Canadian
Answer: Mocny emphasized that US-VISIT will have minimal
impact on landed immigrants (LI), as they presently already
report to border officials for secondary interview.
According to Mocny, the only changes LIs will face are the
biometric fingerprint scan and facial imaging. He added
that pilot programs at the Sarnia and Port Huron POEs have
shown there is no "real" added inconvenience to LIs.
Further, he stated LIs may even experience fewer delays at
POEs because US-VISIT eliminates the need for prospective
U.S. visitors to complete Form I-94. Mocny underscored that
the pilot programs at Sarnia and Port Huron, and the
implementation of US-VISIT at Canadian airports, have been
successful and important to creating a secure medium to
collect biographic data on potential U.S. visitors (one that
also guards against identity theft).
c. How will US-VISIT affect Canadians with dual
Answer: Dual nationals who declare either their Canadian or
American citizenship while presenting the appropriate
corroborating identification at POEs will not be affected by
US-VISIT. However, visitors to the U.S. who claim
citizenship to a third country upon arrival at the POE will
be subject to US-VISIT and may be expected to take part in a
d. Does DHS have plans to begin fingerprinting and
photographing Canadian citizens?
Answer: Mocny stated that DHS understands that in addition
to securing the border, the cross border economy still has
to be maintained and that DHS recognizes that most people
(at least 80%) who cross the US-Canadian border do not have
malicious intentions. However, Mocny further stated DHS
does not believe the border is secure; that the majority of
people stopped through US-VISIT were taken into secondary
inspection because of possible intent to overstay their
visit in the U.S. and that many people with criminal
convictions have been apprehended through the program. He
noted that while presently the only Canadians who must
participate in US-VISIT are those that require visas (i.e.
fianc(e)s of American citizens, immigrants, treaty-trade
investors), the 9/11 Commission made specific
recommendations on the possible need to include Canadians in
e. Is it true all Canadians will require a passport to
enter the U.S. as of December 31? If not, have discussions
on the creation of a continental card resumed?
Answer: Mocny stated that DHS has no current plan to require
Canadians to bear passports at U.S. borders, but that this
may be subject to change based upon the will of the U.S.
Congress. Regarding a continental-wide identification,
Mocny stated that while that remains an option for the
future, speculation would not be useful.
f. Will US-VISIT target minorities?
Answer: Mocny stated that the only foreign nationals not
subject to US-VISIT at POEs are Canadians, a facet of the
program that will ensure that everyone is treated equally.
He went on to state while Canadians are exempt from US-VISIT
at present, only time will tell whether Canadians will
remain exempt from program participation.
g. What happens to the biographic data that is collected
Answer: Mocny replied that the data collected would be
distributed within DHS as needed. He added that an
inquiring foreign national would have access to the list of
U.S. governmental entities that has access to their
information. Mocny stated there is no plan to share the
information collected from US-VISIT with Canadian officials
and that the collection of biographic data through US-VISIT
has allowed DHS to track the length of visits of foreign
nationals to the U.S.
h. Will the implementation of US-VISIT have any impact on
the American traveler?
Answer: Mocny stated that US-VISIT will have no effect on
the average American traveler.
i. Post 9/11--should Canadians get accustomed to the idea
that they will eventually be subject to programs similar to
Answer: Mocny reaffirmed that the only change in the
procedural status quo was the launch of US-VISIT at the 17
busiest land POEs, expected to be fully operational by the
December 31, 2004, deadline. He added that while U.S.
policy may change in the future, he could not speculate on
those potential changes.
6. Post is considering the possibility of conducting a
followup US-VISIT DVC, as we had insufficient lead time to
notify other stakeholders (ie., representatives from the
Visa Waiver Program countries' Consulates General in our
district, other travel and trade-related contacts) who may
have benefited from the November 5 briefing.