- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 22, 2007

4:47 p.m.

In a change of policy, the Bush administration today announced that children will be exempt from new rules requiring travelers to show passports when entering the U.S.

Children 15 or younger with parental consent will be allowed to cross the borders at land and sea entry points with certified copies of their birth certificates rather than passports.

Youths 16 through 18 traveling with school, religious, cultural or athletic groups and under adult supervision also will be allowed to travel with only their birth certificates.

American children and adults who travel by air still must show passports when they return to the U.S. under new restrictions that went into effect last month. Those rules also apply to citizens of Canada, Mexico, Bermuda or Caribbean nations who enter the U.S. by any means.

The new rules will take effect as early as next January.

The new policy for children was partly the result of talks between the Department of Homeland Security, Canada and U.S. border state officials who were concerned that the new requirements would hurt legitimate travel and commerce, DHS spokesman Russ Knocke said.

Yesterday, DHS initiated a program for travelers who believe they have been incorrectly placed on the department’s “no fly” list or other security watch lists.

The Traveler Redress Inquiry Program, or TRIP, allows travelers who say they have been delayed erroneously, denied boarding or identified for additional screening to file a petition online at www.dhs.gov/trip.

The program is designed to streamline possible passenger misidentification issues among the department’s several agencies, including the Transportation Security Administration, Customs and Border Protection, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The information will be shared with airports and airlines, DHS said.

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