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Username: Upinottawa

Post Number: 324
Registered: 09-2005
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Posted on Thursday, April 27, 2006 - 10:48 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Will Congress pull out a victory for Detroit/Windsor in the bottom of the ninth?

From today's Windsor Star:

Border ID delay urged

Beth Gorham, The Canadian Press
Published: Thursday, April 27, 2006

WASHINGTON - A coalition pushing for a delay in strict new U.S. measures for cross-border travellers planned to tell a U.S. Senate committee today that the impact would be far worse than the chaos seen after the 2001 terrorist attacks.

And the group is gaining support in Congress from northern border states worried about the effects of plans that would require a passport or other secure document at land crossings by the beginning of 2008.

"The more we talk to people, the more concern they have," said Sarah Hubbard, vice-president of government relations for the Detroit Regional Chamber. "Congress has a history of extending things right at the last minute. We think this can happen here."

U.S. administration officials have been adamant about meeting the deadline under a security law passed by Congress in 2004.

But there's momentum among legislators to take a second look at the so-called Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative that would apply equally to Canadians.

"The timetable for the proposed travel requirement is extremely ambitious," said Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman, who's holding a Foreign Affairs subcommittee hearing on the plan.

"Implementing this program without adequate study and reflection could create a mess at our borders and a hardship for our families."

Coleman doesn't want the new ID requirement to take effect until officials are certain that everyone needing new documents has them and a pilot project ensures the plan would work.

Other U.S. legislators say they want to delay the initiative until July 2009.

The U.S. is working on an alternative high-technology pass card that would be about half the cost of a passport.

Canada's Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day insisted last week that U.S. officials will consider alternatives for Canadians, such as drivers' licences and birth certificates.

But that would require extensive changes to upgrade them and provide proof of citizenship.

Ken Oplinger, co-chair of a business coalition opposed to the U.S. pass cards, said he'll argue today that more secure biometric drivers' licences with citizenship information on both sides of the border would be cheaper and easier to get, while serving the purpose of monitoring who is entering the country.

"We believe Congress has a golden opportunity to provide (the) security we need with the ease of movement border communities have known for almost 200 years," he said in prepared testimony.

Otherwise, he said, border delays and the impact on commerce will be much worse than after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The Windsor Star 2006

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