BOISE, Idaho (AP)
Officials from the United States and Canada say that American northern border policy, shaped by terrorism concerns and Mexican border issues, is negat ive ly impac t ing Pac i f i c Northwest communities. "We're trying to decide what to do with the Canadian border based on what we do with the Mexican border," Idaho Rep. George Eskridge, said during a discussion Monday at the annual summi t of the Paci f i c Northwest Economic Region. "I think that's wrong, because we've got different problems." Border policy is just one topic on the agenda at the meeting this week in Boise, attended by about 500 government officials, policy experts and business leaders from the U.S. and Canada. Leaders also will delve into cross-border issues like energy, agriculture and economic development. But Monday' s s e s s i o n focused on the pros and cons of the existing border policy. Donald Alper, a Western Washington University political scientist and director of the Bo rd e r Po l i cy Re s e a rc h Institute, said his research shows a significant decline in cross-border travel since tighter security measures were imposed after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He also said communities that had developed close crossborder cultures have seen those relationships erode as the U.S. limited access. "My personal view is it's probably ludicrous that we're securitizing the border with Canada to the point that we are," said Alper. Montana Rep. Julie French, D-Scobey, said the federal government is pouring $15 million in economic stimulus funds into upgrading a border crossing in her district that caters to about 10 cars a day.