I have long been irritated at the Bush Administration proposal to slow down the vacationing public by requiring passports with Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean. It is pure lunacy to think that every person crossing the border is a national threat. The chaos that has resulted from this policy has caused much concern in Congress. Therefore there is a plan in Washington to thwart the Bush Administration plan. But the White House wants to continue to play the terror card with the public.
The first phase of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, or WHTI, went into effect earlier this year, requiring U.S. travelers returning by plane from Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean to carry a passport. As a result of the new requirements, demand for passports soared and the State Department issued a record 18.4 million passports in fiscal year 2007, compared to 12.1 million in 2006.
As a result, wait times for passports ballooned from four to six weeks to 12 weeks, but they have since returned to normal.
Even members of the GOP understand that a change in Bush policy is required, as the AP reports.
Sen. Norm Colemna, R-Minn., said the government should have more time to implement the law, and ”do it in a way that won’t cause the same passport headaches we saw with the air travel requirement earlier this year.”
In border states like Coleman’s, the new laws have also raised concerns that local trade and tourism will suffer. In response, the State Department plans to create passcards which will cost less than half the nearly $100 charged for a new passport.
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