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Interest revived in 'third border' concept
Published on February 16, 2017 Email To Friend    Print Version

The Third Border Initiative introduced by US President George W. Bush in 2001 is a reference to the Caribbean region's adjacency to the United States. The policy is the ideology that behind Canada and Mexico, the Caribbean region is a sea-based border of the United States

By Caribbean News Now contributor

ROSEAU, Dominica -- The Caribbean island nations are often described as America’s “third border” but to what extent should Americans be concerned that the Caribbean is a backdoor for opponents to sneak into the country?

In the last few weeks allegations have been made of collaboration between the island of Dominica and Iranian and Chinese nationals. It is claimed that they are seeking to undermine the security of the United States.

However, no such agreement is in place, nor has there been shown to be any such agreement or collusion between the parties. Iranians and Chinese seek second citizenships because their own passports limit their ability to travel. Clearly, just because somebody comes from a different country, they are not inherently hostile to the US administration.

“The Dominican government takes it obligations to its neighbours very seriously,” said a government source. “We believe small island states such as ours can be a useful barrier to preventing the transit of undesirables. Our citizenship program, for example, means that nobody can become a citizen without thorough processing and scrutiny on a forensic level.”

Part of this scrutiny is achieved in co-operation with the Caribbean’s neighbour to the north. The government of Dominica works closely with the government of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the European Union to ensure that applicants go through an additional layer of scrutiny before citizenship is granted.

Dominica also works closely with the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), and is a member of both regional and international organizations including the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Organization of American States (OAS), among others. Membership of such bodies has further strengthened Dominica’s relationship across the other Caribbean and regional nations.

According to a government source: “The government of the Commonwealth of Dominica is prepared to work ever more closely with its neighbours, sub-regional, regional and hemispheric organizations to play its role in international peace and security. We would like to ensure that our citizenship is not granted to anyone who is involved in any nefarious activities.”

Often overlooked, Caribbean countries are important partners on health and education issues, immigration and regional democracy. What is good for the security of the Caribbean islands is also good for the United States of America.

Ever since President George W Bush introduced his Third Border Initiative in April 2001, the US administration has been concerned about illegal drug trafficking, migrant smuggling and financial crimes in the jurisdiction. Bush introduced several measures to help encourage law enforcement cooperation and collaboration. However, the events of September of that year meant that the third border was often overlooked while the focus was elsewhere, mainly in the Middle East.

Fresh diplomatic efforts are seeking to revive the close links, particularly as this US administration is clearly more concerned about its borders than its predecessors. This means that the countries’ citizenship-by-investment (CBI) programs, which hardly existed in Bush’s day, are coming under renewed scrutiny.

"We are also committed to deepening our cooperation throughout the hemisphere in fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS, responding to natural disasters, and making sure the benefits of globalization are felt in even the smallest economies,” said Bush at the time. “These goals are at the heart of the Third Border initiative we have launched with the countries of the Caribbean.”

HIV/AIDS, while it has not gone away, is better understood and contained than it was more than 15 years ago. Natural disasters still occur, and the response times could still be better managed. But it is the benefits of globalisation that are the most intriguing. There is no clearer example of the benefits of globalisation than the existence of the Caribbean’s CBI programs. These give individuals the freedom to travel as they wish, while their investment into either government schemes or real estate projects provides jobs for thousands of people.

Most of the people that seek a second citizenship are law abiding and honest. Their only crime was to be born in a jurisdiction that often makes foreign travel difficult and sometimes impossible. To qualify for a second citizenship, they need to provide detailed information on every aspect of their lives. The process is rigorous and thorough. International experts vet every application and only once they declare themselves satisfied is the certificate of naturalization issued, granting to them citizenship.
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