My colleague Nayla Rush brought an interesting item to my attention: Canada has received royal assent to move forward with a law that will permit it to fully collect and exchange border entry and exit data with the United States. (See here and here.)
As a footnote to American readers: Even though Canada is a fully sovereign nation, because of its legal and commonwealth ties to the United Kingdom, bills in Canada's parliament still require the assent of the British monarch before they may be enacted into law. While it's doubtful that the queen would ever object to something passed by Canada's parliament, the forms must still be observed.
This impending law will help both nations, because an entry into one of the two countries from the other obviously constitutes an exit as well. Given that departure data collection is incomplete in both nations, this will help fill a critical gap, particularly for foreigners coming and going across the shared border. It is obviously important for each country to be aware that an alien seeking an immigration benefit (asylum, for instance) within its boundaries has decided to cross the border into foreign turf, because such a move has legal consequences that might otherwise be concealed from the relevant authorities.
The data will include both citizens and resident aliens ("landed immigrants" as they are called in Canada).
Some observers might worry about the privacy implications of such an information exchange between the United States and Canada, particularly as it relates to each nation's citizens and resident aliens. If you are one of those concerned, let me just say to you that those horses fled the barn a long time ago. You might be interested to know that the ever-vigilant Internal Revenue Service has bilateral automatic information sharing agreements with many countries, of which Canada is only one — and a relatively benign one at that, since the list includes such places as Bulgaria, the Cayman Islands, Colombia, Indonesia, Malta, and Mexico. What will be collected and shared as the result of border entries and exits pales in comparison to the amount of extremely personal and private information exchanged from your tax returns.
A biometric and biographic entry-exit information sharing agreement, based in and permitted by the new law, represents a modest but important step forward between the two countries in policing our shared border against terrorist and criminal incursions, and even in protecting against immigration cheats and fraudsters.