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Passport Law Delayed; IDs Needed at Borders

January 22, 2008 by   - () Leave a Comment

Travelers crossing the Canadian border will soon face tighter identity checks but citizens of both nations will not have to show passports until 2009, U.S. authorities said Friday (Jan. 18), according to an Agence France-Press (AFP) report.
From Jan. 31, “border crossers will be asked to present documents denoting citizenship and identity when entering the United States through land and sea ports of entry,” the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in a statement. The requirement also applies to travelers entering the U.S. from Mexico.
Previously, U.S. and Canadian citizens have been allowed to cross the border after making just an oral declaration of nationality. The new rule aims to standardize what documents travelers to the United States must carry.
However, a bid to oblige these citizens to show a full passport to enter the U.S. has been delayed by the U.S. Congress, DHS said.
“Although DHS was on schedule to begin implementation of the new (passport) requirements as early as summer 2008, the fiscal year 2008 Appropriations Bill passed by Congress last month restricts the department from implementing these new requirements until June 2009.”
RV and camping associations in the Northeast and Canadian officials near the border have expressed concern over what impact proposed passport requirements will have on tourism.
The measures aim to crack down on illegal declarations by people who falsely claim to be citizens, it said. Customs officers reported more than 1,500 false declarations from October to December 2007 alone.
“For the safety of the American people, the United States cannot have an honor system at the border,” Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said in the statement.
“Requiring secure and reliable documentation at our borders will drastically reduce security vulnerabilities.”
AFP reported that from Jan. 31, all U.S. and Canadian citizens aged 19 and over will be asked to present documentation “from a specified list of acceptable documents” such as birth certificates and driver’s licenses.
“Travelers who do not present one of these documents may be delayed while U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers attempt to verify their identity and citizenship,” said the DHS.

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