Armed Properly, Fingers Crossed

Customs agent searches a car at the U.S. Canadian border Border Patrol treeorism AP

The U.S. and Canadian border patrols are tightening security, because of the potential for a terrorist attack.

They have their work cut out for them.

There are only 27 border patrol agents to guard the 300-mile-long Pacific northwest border with Canada, reports CBS News Reporter Stephan Kaufman.

Kaufman talked to border patrol agent Paul Erni, who patrols eastern Washington's border with Canada. The northern border is practically wide open, says Erni, and it's impossible to keep out persons engaged in illegal activities.

"It's a very porous northern border...up here you'll have one agent working 100 square miles," says Erni.

"What's Canada going to do, run a fence down here? No, they can't do that. It's just the nature of the beast up here. It's remote territory. We do our best with what we have," says Erni.

Erni adds that the severe shortage of personnel on the northern border places the safety of the handful of agents in jeopardy.

Lou Masecott, a resident of Salmo, British Columbia, feels the Canadian government should "start beefing up internal security, so that these people can't come in from a Third World country, get their hands on explosives, and transfer it across borders back and forth. I mean it's absolutely crazy."

Fears of terrorism were somewhat allayed when the Sunday arrest of five Jordanian adults in Blaine, Washington turned out not to be linked to terrorism. In that situation, a woman and her two-year-old child were reportedly entering the country illegally to be reunited with her husband.

"We have no reason to believe at this time that these people have any ties to terrorist organizations," said FBI Special Agent Roberta Burroughs in Seattle on Monday.

But in the coming days, border patrol agents will be more vigilant than ever.

"If a bad situation were to transpire, hopefully we would have the upper hand," says Erni. "So we're armed properly, and we work the area smartly, and don't let our guard down."

CBS Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report
  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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