United States and Canada: The Peace Arch park on the border between Washington state and British Columbia, including patrol procedures by the border agencies of both countries; whether it is possible to cross the border in the park without detection
1. Overview of Peace Arch Park
Peace Arch Park is located on the border of British Columbia and Washington State at the international boundary at the junction of Highway 99 in British Columbia and Interstate 5 in Washington State (British Columbia n.d.; USCPAA n.d.). The town of Blaine is located on the US side of the border, while Surrey is on the Canadian side of the border (ibid.). The park was reportedly built on the international boundary between Canada and the US, and the Peace Arch, a monument symbolizing the peace between the two nations, reportedly straddles the boundary (ibid.; British Columbia n.d.; US n.d.). According to the US Canada Peace Arch Anniversary Association (USCPAA), a "privately funded, non-profit organization dedicated to the heritage and preservation of the International Peace Arch and park," the Peace Arch State and Provincial Parks are cooperatively managed by Washington State Parks and British Columbia Parks (USCPAAA n.d.). The website of British Columbia Parks indicates that the Canadian-managed side of Peace Arch Park is nine hectares (n.d.). The website of US State Parks indicates that the US-managed part of Peace Arch park is 20 acres [approximately eight hectares] (US n.d.). Both parks are noted as "day-use" parks (ibid.; BC n.d.).
The Hamilton Spectator reports that the Douglas border crossing, also known as the Peace Arch crossing, is the third busiest border crossing between the US and Canada with approximately 3,500 to 4,800 cars passing through it daily (17 Oct. 2012). In correspondence with the Research Directorate, a representative of the USCPAA estimated that the border is approximately 3,500 feet [1,066 metres] at Peace Arch Park, including both the park and the border crossing agencies, with water to the west of the park and neighbourhoods to the east (10 Jan. 2014). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.
2. Border Patrol
Information about border patrol at the Peace Arch Park was scarce among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. In a telephone interview with the Research Directorate, a superintendent of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), who is responsible for border operations, said that information about how the Peace Arch Park is patrolled by Canadian authorities is not available to share with the public (Canada 9 Jan. 2014). Similarly, in a telephone interview with the Research Directorate, a public affairs officer at the US Customs and Border Control in Blaine, Washington said that their agency cannot release information about US border patrol at Peace Arch Park to the public (US 8 Jan. 2014).
The British Columbia Parks website notes that, since the park is located on the US/Canadian border, visitors "may be asked to provide identification and immigration information by officers of the Canada Border Services Agency and/or the US Customs and Border Protection" (n.d.).
Neither the RCMP official nor the US Customs and Border Control official were able to release publicly available comments about the likelihood of someone being able to cross from the US side of the park to the Canadian side without being detected (US 8 Jan. 2014; Canada 9 Jan. 2014).
The USCPAA representative noted that "cameras, sensors, and border patrol agents monitor the park" (10 Jan. 2014). News releases from the US Department of Homeland Security report of several cases in which people who were not US or Canadian citizens and who were illegally present in the US were apprehended by US border control agents in the area of Peace Arch Park (US 18 June 2012; ibid. 29 May 2012; ibid. 16 Mar. 2012). The US Department of Homeland Security also released information about cases in which operators of "a remote video surveillance system" notified US border control agents about subjects crossing the US/Canadian border at Peace Arch Park (US 29 May 2012), or people found leaving the Peace Arch Park after the park was closed (ibid. 27 Apr. 2012).
This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.
British Columbia (BC). N.d. "Peace Arch Provincial Park." [Accessed 8 Jan. 2014]
Canada. 9 January 2014. Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Telephone interview with a superintendent.
The Hamilton Spectator. 17 October 2012. "Canadian Border Guard Shot at Surrey, B.C., Crossing." (Factiva)
United States (US). 8 January 2014. US Customs and Border Control, Department of Homeland Security. Telephone interview with a public affairs officer at the Blaine office.
United States (US). 18 June 2012. US Customs and Border Control, Department of Homeland Security. "US Border Patrol Weekly Blotter, Blaine Sector, June 7-June 13." (Factiva)
United States (US). 29 May 2012. US Customs and Border Control, Department of Homeland Security. "US Border Patrol Weekly Blotter, Blaine Sector, May 17-May 23." (Factiva)
United States (US). 27 April 2012. US Customs and Border Control, Department of Homeland Security. "US Border Patrol Weekly Blotter, Blaine Sector, Apr. 19-Apr. 25." (Factiva)
United States (US). 16 March 2012. US Customs and Border Control, Department of Homeland Security. "US Border Patrol Weekly Blotter, Blaine Sector, Mar. 8-Mar. 14." (Factiva)
United States (US). N.d. US State Parks. "Peace Arch State Park." [Accessed 13 Jan. 2014]
United States Canada Peace Arch Anniversary Association (USCPAA). 10 January 2014. Correspondence from a representative to the Research Directorate.
United States Canada Peace Arch Anniversary Association (USCPAA). N.d. "The International Peace Arch." [Accessed 18 Dec. 2013]
Additional Sources Consulted
Oral sources: Representatives of the Canada Border Services Agency and Peace Arch Provincial Park (BC) were unable to provide information.
Internet sites, including: Canada – Canada Border Services Agency, Royal Canadian Mounted Police; Factiva; US – Department of Homeland Security.