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Question of the Day
“Our trading relationship, our vast energy partnership, family and personal connections make our shared border a gateway to prosperity,” he said in a recent speech in Minneapolis. “But, given recent developments, I have concerns that our border is becoming more of a checkpoint than a gateway.”
The law, known as the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), already applies to airline passengers. It was scheduled to include land traffic in January, but Congress demanded a delay because angry constituents complained about long delays in obtaining passports from the State Department. The U.S. extended the deadline for six months.
However, Mr. Wilson fears that, with 70 million border crossings a year and about $1.5 billion a day in cross-border trade, the passport requirement could cause backups that could damage tourism and other business. He is urging the Bush administration to accept other secure documentation, such as driver’s licenses with enhanced identification technology.
“Without proper attention, WHTI could build barriers between our two countries, out long-standing friendships and community ties, as well as our integrated business interests,” he said.
“In the just-in-time manufacturing world we live in, we cannot burden the supply chain with unnecessary delays, added costs or other factors that undermine productivity,” he said, adding that layers of bureaucracy could add to the “thickening of the border.”
“In the end,” he added, “we want to ensure the least amount of disruption to the seamless flow of legitimate commerce and people.”
Get a passport
“Get a passport,” he said in a recent speech at the University of Saskatchewan.
He also noted that the U.S. government has delayed the imposition of its WHTI program, but the requirement will be enforced later next year.
“What does all this mean?” he asked. “Very simply, it means that on both sides of the border, our governments recognize this is a time of transition, and, while the passport is the optimum document, everyone understands not everyone has them yet.”
By Michael P. Orsi
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