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Secretary Land applauds expected delay in implementation of new passport requirement
SEPTEMBER 26, 2006
Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land today applauded a Congressional conference committee's approval of legislation that would delay the implementation of a new passport requirement until June 1, 2009. The Homeland Security Appropriations Act is expected to advance to a final vote of the House and Senate later this week.
"This is good news for many people on both sides of the border who have been concerned the passport requirement would unnecessarily impede trade and tourism," Land said. "If passed and signed into law, this measure will provide more time to ensure that we find the best solution for border identification-one that protects our citizens while also preventing harm to our economic interests.
"We will continue to work to convince Congress and the Department of Homeland Security that a combined driver's license/passport document would harmonize security policy and make sound economic sense."
President Bush signed the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) in December 2004, which requires all travelers entering or reentering the United States by land to have a passport or other secure document beginning January 1, 2008.
Numerous concerns have been raised that the expense and effort required to obtain a new passport under WHTI will hamper cross-border commerce and tourism. Windsor and Niagara Falls-area businesses have reported they are already losing tourists who are canceling trips due to the mistaken belief that the tougher ID law is already in effect.
Earlier today, Land spoke to the Canada-U.S. Business Association at the Gem Theatre in Detroit regarding her proposal for a dual-purpose driver's license.
"Michigan and other states want to work cooperatively with the federal government to keep our nation secure," Land said. "We need the flexibility to implement a common-sense solution."