The Undefended Border

The Undefended Border

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Unprecedented Access Post-September 11 To Canada’s New Realities on the Frontlines of Illegal Immigration

What is it like in the post-September 11 world, to be on the frontline, charged with confronting, day and night, those who knock on, or slip under, Canada’s door?

If one could stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Immigration and RCMP officers whose job it is to question, evaluate, detain, incarcerate or admit, and see how they do their work in this new painful reality, would one feel safer’.or not?

Peter Raymont and Lindalee Tracey, partners in Toronto-based White Pine Pictures, are the only filmmakers or journalists able to arrange exclusive and unprecedented access to the high-voltage world of Canadian Immigration officers and RCMP special task force members, after September 11.

The Undefended Border explores the furious new pace of immigration police work, revealing individual investigators staggering in the blur of competing urgencies. The series pulls back the layers of bureaucracy to reveal the priorities and the police work behind individual cases involving illegals, following their progress through investigation, detention and deportation.

Much has changed in immigration policing since Tracey and Raymont made their acclaimed documentary on Canada’s illegal immigrant population, Invisible Nation, which aired in 1997 on TVO. Enforcement policy is now emphatically anti-criminal, while intelligence gathering has become more centralized. Priorities have become the capture and deportation of criminals; anti-terrorism, and staunching the endless leaking of illegals from, and to, the United States.

Following a handful of Immigration, RCMP and CSIS agents working in the GTA, Ottawa and Fort Erie, The Undefended Border documents the growing tenacity of officers literally under fire; the split-second decisions needed to avert the violence of desperate illegals; the frustration of deporting illegals who keep returning; the territorial posturing of competing units; the frantic whispers for weapons. The camera sees what the investigators see – frightened faces; the dangerous twitch of desperation; cold stares.

There is much less hesitation to remove illegals now; September 11 changed all that.

The Undefended Border burrows deep into the criminal underground and into the newly formed enforcement units trying to control it: the Immigration Task Force, the War Crimes Unit, the ‘Failed Refugee’ Program and the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit. While enforcement officers raid factories and homes searching for benign illegals and failed refugees, there is new urgency to defend against Canada’s reputation as a ‘soft’ country. Post 9/11, America has been loudly critical of Canada’s supposedly lax immigration policing, our ‘leaky’ border. Officers work with increased political pressure to toughen the border and clear out threats to national security.

Shot over six months in the wake of 9/11, The Undefended Border is a highly dramatic, up-close and intimate portrait of the men and women who make up Canada’s first internal line of defense.

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