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New passport rules chill cross-border contact
Story created Apr 11, 2005 - 11:37:11 EDT.
EASTERN UPPER PENINSULA - New passport requirements for
U.S. and Canadian citizens entering the U.S. will almost certainly have a
chilling effect on several aspects of everyday life along the border.
While there is some question on a number of particular applications, there is no doubt that crossing the border will be much more expensive.
Announced last week by the U.S. Homeland Security Department, the new rule will require a U.S. passport for any U.S. citizen returning from Canada, Mexico and a number of other Western Hemisphere countries. It will also apparently require that Canadians entering the U.S. have a Canadian passport to enter the U.S.
If ultimately approved in final form, the new rules will take effect for people entering the U.S. by air and sea on Dec. 31, 2006 and for land crossings by Dec. 31, 2007. After those dates, anyone - adults or children from infancy on - entering the U.S. will be required to carry a valid passport. Announcement of the new rule last week did not make mention of penalties for failure to carry the required passport.
It is not clear from the few public announcements issued on the proposed new rules if U.S. citizen violators will be denied entry and be forced to stay abroad or if arrest and imprisonment are likely.
Also unclear from early documents is how boaters who
wander over the ill-defined U.S. border along the St. Mary's River and tourists
riding tour boats will be treated under the proposed new rules.
What is not in question is the cost for individuals and families. If the ruling stands, every U.S. citizen of any age must purchase a passport and acceptable passport photo at about $110 for adults and $95 for children. (Prices include the cost of a passport and the required photo for mounting in it.)
A significant additional expense for families, the new passport rules also require long lead times for citizens thinking of crossing the border for any reason. The standard waiting time for a U.S. passport is six to eight weeks.
While local reaction to the new rules appears to be mixed or somewhat muted, Sault Ste. Marie Mayor Tony Bosbous was under no illusions about the passport regulations. "It will be devastating to our area at least. It will be devastating to both communities," he said of the Sault Ste. Marie area.
"I don't know what our Congressional people can do," Bosbous added. "I don't think there's any discussion going on."
Bosbous said it appears that the new rules will be
imposed without public hearings or any other means for impacted communities to
make their views known. Homeland Security announcements mention a "review and
comment" period but do not indicate how ordinary citizens or local governments
can comment on the new rules.
"I think people will stop going across. This will stop them in droves," Bosbous said.
The mayor also indicated the new passport barrier will likely disrupt a warming atmosphere of cross-border cooperation between the two namesake communities across the St. Mary's River.
State Sen. Gary McDowell (D-Rudyard) was of similar mind on the subject. "This will be a great hindrance for us. I don't see how we're going to be safer," McDowell said last week. McDowell said the passport rules will almost certainly interfere with family visiting across the border and inhibit cross-border shopping.
U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Menominee) does not see the passport rule as a burden. In published comments last week, Stupak said the rules will not injure the tourist trade or industry. He said the major impact will be on "individual travelers" rather than "industry."
Reached in Washington last week, Stupak appeared to be irritated with questions about the passport requirements. "We had to do something," Stupak said. He said there are a number of other ways to meet the new Homeland Security standard, noting an alphabet soup collection of special border passes devised for frequent border crossers.
Stupak appeared to blame the states for slowness to pick up on Homeland Security's needs. He said state driver licenses would be acceptable identification if they had the digitized "swipe" feature the federal agency appears to need.
Michigan's driver licenses in fact do have the computer reading "swipe" strip on the back as well as a bar code giving driver information.
The congressman also stated that the public will have a chance to comment on the passport rules. He was somewhat surprised to learn that the Homeland Security announcement mentioned no opportunity for public comment before the rules become final next fall.
The Homeland Security announcement appeared to preclude state identification like driver licenses possibly meeting the new passport requirements. The only alternatives mentioned in the announcement were Homeland Security's SENTRI, BCC, NEXUS and FAST cards, issued to frequent border crossers.
Local U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Border Patrol officers
said they do not know how the new passport rules will affect fishermen,
recreational boaters or tour boat passengers on the St. Mary's River.
Heretofore, boaters were only required to contact U.S. Customs and carry Customs
documents if they made a landing in Canada.
A Coast Guard official said boaters and fishermen frequently cross the underwater "border" that divides the river. Only if they land in Canada and return, are they required to undergo a Customs check, he said.
Border Patrol officer Brian Hastings said he too is unsure how the new passport rules will affect boaters. He said rules have not come down on the new regulations yet but added that the Border Patrol "encourages" river boaters to carry their passports along with the considerable on-board documentation now required of boaters and fishermen.
Rich Brawley of Famous Soo Locks Cruises Inc. said he is also not sure how the new rules will affect tour boat passengers. River tour boats routinely use the Canadian Lock at Sault Ste. Marie without border inspection.
Brawley said if the new rules now require every passenger to carry a passport, his company will discontinue tours into Canadian territory.
Among the several types of cross-border travel apparently covered by the new passport rules is the extensive athletic competition between football, basketball, track and hockey teams from the respective sides of the U.S.-Canada border. When the new rule goes into effect, coaches and parents must be sure that players, coaches, managers and fans all have passports to cross the border to play ball. Aside from sports events, an unknown number of U.S. and Canadian citizens regularly cross the border to attend or present cultural programs from films to plays or concerts.
They also will be required to purchase passports before they think of buying theater tickets to a cultural event.
Lost or ignored in the claims of tighter border security under the new passport rules was a striking fact restated recently by the 911 Commission report on the New York and Washington terror attacks of 2001. All 19 of the foreign nationals who carried out the Sept. 11 attacks possessed completely valid travel documents, including passports, into the U.S.
How Can I
Contact School or Youth Amateur Radio Clubs?
(Reply only to firstname.lastname@example.org . Do not click on REPLY.)
Several members have asked this question. Unfortunately, there is no inclusive school/youth club listing, but here are two ways to proceed:
1. Go to arrl.org, click on clubs, go to the Section or Sections in which you are most interested and look for clubs identified as being associated with a school.
2. Go to http://www.arrl.org/FandES/ead/youth/ and check out the links. They should lead you to a few other spots to check out.
Let me know how this works out for you. I'll try to find more later.
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