The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

06 April 2005

Passports Will Be Needed Soon

Improved Border Security?
More Documentation Required Coming From Four Countries

Do you cross the border often without carrying a valid passport? Soon it will be required to enter the US from four countries: Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and Panama. No longer will other documentation be sufficient.

It's being implemented by the US government, in the name of better defending our borders against terrorists and perhaps illegals, as well. Will it help?

First, a better question: why would anyone travel to foreign countries without a valid passport? Is there anything more unwise than being outside your homeland without one? What if something happens to you? And why needlessly cause delays upon re-entry?

I never go anywhere, including and especially Canada, without a passport with me at all times. Funny enough, it's the first thing they ask for these days, upon entry to Canada and then returning to the US. And I still have had many annoying hassles.

I can't imagine being without one, especially if children are with you. That alone slows everything down by several minutes. Giving agents extra reasons to be suspicious just makes it all even more unpleasant.

It's funny how priorities are different, depending on the country. I don't think Canadian agents care who the heck you are, as long as you aren't carrying wrapped gifts to local people. That would be a terrible thing to admit.

Even worse would be to say you were there for business purposes. So crossing that way is usually a breeze, unless they think you're smuggling something.

Some nations are more concerned with whether you're carrying a radio or television, so they can force you to buy a license for it on the spot.

Returning to the US is another matter, at least since 9-11. Sometimes the focus of questioning is odd, with more of an interest in why your trunk is full of dill pickle potato crisps, Five Alive, Smarties, Shreddies and all of the other grocery brands not available in the US, than who you are. Aren't they used to this by now?

Will this new obligation reduce entries into the US by terrorists and illegals? Perhaps, it will take time to see if that's the case, but sealing up the borders the way volunteers are attempting to do in Arizona, is the real way to go.

(AP- Lara Jakes Jordan- 6 April 2005)

WASHINGTON -- Americans traveling to Canada and Mexico would need passports to come home to the United States under guidelines proposed Tuesday in the latest effort to deter terrorists from entering the country.

The new rules, which would be phased in by 2008, apply to Americans traveling from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, the Caribbean and Panama. They also apply to citizens from those countries who want to enter the United States - prompting Canadian officials to announce that they might reciprocate.

The regulations mark a dramatic shift from a policy that allows Americans to return home from neighboring countries without a passport. They also raise the potential of hampering tourism and commercial traffic with the United States' two immediate neighbors.

An estimated 60 million Americans - about 20 percent of thae national population - have passports.

"There's a very strong awareness that these are tremendous commercial borders and that you don't want to hinder the commercial activity," Rice said in an interview with The Associated Press. "But at the same time, you've got to have some controls that help you prevent people who are trying to come in and hurt us."

She added: "It's part of the recognition that in 2001, when Sept. 11 happened - and frankly before that, when you think about the millennium plot in 1999 - these were borders that I think no one could call secure."


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