The arrival of Donald Trump to the White House almost a year ago turned the border between the United States and Canada into a hot zone.
The anti-immigration discourse that the president maintained during the electoral campaign, as well as some of the concrete measures he has taken since the presidency, such as the so-called immigration veto to prohibit entry to the United States of citizens coming from mainly Muslim countries, as a result, many foreigners in the United States now seeking new horizons in Canada.
Between January and November of last year more than 18,000 people who crossed the border illegally from the United States to Canada to request refugee status.
Many of them were Haitians who mobilised after Trump’s decision to end the Temporary Protected Status Program (TPS), which since 2010 had allowed some 50,000 Haitians to reside in the United States after the devastating earthquake. that hit the country in 2010.
Now, the Canadian authorities fear that the White House announcement about the end of the TPS that almost 200 years ago sheltered some 200,000 Salvadorans in the United States , prompts many of them to try to cross to the north.
In recent months Canada has sent several officials to the United States to try to explain how the asylum system works in their country and to clarify some misunderstandings.
1- The longest in the world
It has 8,891 kilometres in length, of which 5,061 km correspond to land limits and 3,830 km to aquatic ones. The border that unites the United States with Canada is the longest in the world.
Its route from Maine to Alaska far exceeds the dividing line between Russia and Kazakhstan (about 6,846 kilometres), as well as the one that separates Argentina from Chile (5,300 km), which are-respectively-the second and third longest on the planet.
Along this border there are 111 land crossing posts.
2- An imaginary straight line
Rivers, lakes and mountains are some of the geographic features present on the border between Canada and the United States.
Despite this, the edge that divides both countries was drawn as an imaginary straight line, which extends along the 49th parallel .
The initial agreements on this matter date from the Treaty of Paris, of 1783, with which the War of Independence of the United States was ended, and when the first limits were established between that country and the territories of the British Empire in North America, that would then shape Canada.
However, many agreements and subsequent treaties signed over more than a century ago were needed to reach the current border status, in which negotiations of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Russia participated.
Throughout this process, and boundary was demarcated by placing 8,000 milestones, many of which are still standing .
3- A strip in the middle of the forest
But the border between the United States and Canada is not only demarcated with milestones. If you look from the air you can see how it is also clearly marked with a wide deforested strip about six meters wide (three meters to each side).
This gap is known as The Vista (“The View”) and extends over mountains, forests or wetlands along the entire border.
It was created in order to make physically visible the separation between both countries, leaving no room for doubts .
The maintenance of this gap is in the hands of the International Boundary Commission (IBC), which was established in 1908 with the specific objective of restoring landmarks and landmarks along the border and charting its boundaries. maps from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.
4- An American city on a Canadian peninsula
The establishment of the common border along the 49th parallel may seem like a simple and easy solution to apply. However, it was not without difficulties.
One of the main ones had to do with the fate of the island of Vancouver, located on the Pacific coast and whose 32,134 kilometers were split in half by the imaginary border line established in the treaties.
After negotiating on several proposals, including the possibility of converting this island into bi-national territory, it was agreed that it would remain under the Canadian flag, but that in return the United States would receive the island of San Juan, an archipelago located in the northwestern corner of the United States to Vancouver Island.
But, the problems would not be there.
After the demarcation was agreed upon, there was the discovery of the Tsawwassen peninsula, located south of Vancouver in British Columbia, of which its northern-most portion was on the US side of the 49th parallel.
There, in that small isolated piece of US territory, the town of Point Roberts was established, a town that formally belongs to the state of Washington but whose only road access with the rest of the country passes through Canada to reenter U.S.
5- A library, divided?
Between the towns of Derby Line, in the American state of Vermont, and the town of Stanstead, in the Canadian province of Quebec, is the Haskell library, whose building was built right on the bi-national border.
A line drawn on the floor with black tape indicates the boundaries of each country: the main door and the children’s book room remain in US territory, while the rest of the collection and the reading room are in Canada.
But, this building is not unique.
Right next to the border is the Haskell Opera House, a theatre whose stage is in Canada, while most of the seats are located in the United States.
That both buildings are called Haskell is no accident.
It is the name of the family that erected them more than a century ago with the explicit objective of promoting friendship and relations on both sides of this peculiar frontier.