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Are We Safer?

Because we live in a tourist area that has a lot of foreign visitors during the colder months when the Federal government messes around with the rules on entry, we take a major hit.

The Pensacola Beach Blog post, Who Rules, and the Associated Press story, Homeland Security Announces New Passport Rules, highlight something that is going to hurt our local economy, and the economies of the communities along the Mexican and Canadian borders.

After January 23, 2007 American citizens are going to be required to carry a US passport to re-enter the US from any other country. It used to be that you only needed a driver’s license or birth certificate to cross the border.

It costs $110 for an adult and $95 for a child to be issued a passport and it takes months. The days of a quick day trip over the border are gone.

This on top of the reduction in time on the visitors permits that Canadians once received for trips to the US are really cutting into the winter tourist season.

Exactly what problem is being addressed by these new requirements? Nothing in them addresses the real problems of controlling the borders; hell, you can’t even locate the border between Canada and the US in North Dakota as most of the markers have gone missing over the years.

This is another waste of time and money to produce a Potemkin solution for a non-existent problem. They don’t want to really take the time to study the real problems and then plan real solutions; they just want to appear to be doing something. If I were a conspiracy theorist I would wonder how long until we needed to produce a passport at state lines?

5 comments

1 Steve Bates { 11.22.06 at 11:56 pm }

If I were a conspiracy theorist I would wonder how long until we needed to produce a passport at state lines?

Bryan, I’ve long since joined the ranks of what most people would consider “conspiracy theorists.” I’ve done so on the basis that it isn’t paranoia if they’re really out to get you.

A passport of sorts at state lines could be implemented literally overnight by stationing drivers-license checkpoints at state boundaries. It’s probably unconstitutional and illegal on several levels, but that would not bother the people in charge right now.

I unintentionally let my “real” U.S. passport expire a couple of years ago, probably because it’s been a long time since I’ve contemplated going anywhere else. The last time I was outside the U.S. was an overnight trip to Victoria, BC in 2001, before 9/11. I’m not much of a traveler. Still, contrary and uncooperative person that I am, the very fact that restrictions have been placed on my right as an American citizen to leave and return to America freely makes me want to do so just to prove a point. But at present I have nowhere else I really want to go.

2 Michael { 11.23.06 at 10:11 am }

They say it takes months, but at least when I’ve either applied for or renewed mine, it’s only taken a few weeks. The thing that’s worrying me is this RFID chip they want to start putting into passports, carrying all the personally identifiable information–and don’t want to spend the extra money to make sure that it can’t be downloaded by anybody willing to spend a few hours sitting or walking through airport waiting rooms with a receiver. I’m actually considering renewing my current passport early, so I can get one that doesn’t have the chip in it and hang onto that for 10 years and hope like hell that some people with a little more sanity take over our foreign policy in the interim.

As to the passport being required for re-entry, I tend to doubt that’s going to survive either the new Democratic Congress next year or the first few six-hour waits in line at the border. The checkpoints in Detroit to go over into Canada were bad enough when all you had to do was flash a driver’s license or a voter registration card and be waved through. If they actually have to stop and scan people’s passports in and out, they’ll have to triple the number of checkpoints and hire a ton of additional staff.

3 Anya { 11.23.06 at 10:45 am }

Stainless Steel Colanders for everyone!

Hey, even if they don’t keep the brain-rays out, at least you can use them to whack border-crossing guards.

Sorry, I know it’s not funny. The first time I left the country was in the late 70’s when the War on Drugs was in full swing. Getting out wasn’t a problem (we took the ferry from Portland, ME to Yarmouth, NS), but we had to wait in line to get back in while our car was searched from stem to stern looking for drugs. Oh, yeah — we were a hippy-looking bunch, and they did find one slightly used pot pipe in the trunk, but they let us in anyway after we waved our birth certificates around.

I can just see the irate Canadians who live in New Hampshire standing at the border after a weekend visit to their family back home. It won’t be pretty.

4 Bryan { 11.23.06 at 10:59 am }

The wait at the Tijuana crossing were part of the traffic reports in San Diego, it is only going to get worse. There is no physical space for any more lanes for processing, so the waits are just going to multiply and, unless they have back-up power, the proposed computer assistance to the inspectors will be down 10% of the time.

The lost and stolen passports for forgers is going to soar along the border, now that the criminal element knows that every American is carrying one.

RFID is a bad idea if you are trying to protect information. You can buy scanners from a vet’s supply house because they are used to ID pets.

Everyone living along the border will be applying for a passport, so the processing time will degrade, no more last minute applications at major airports, as used to happen.

Another expensive, half-baked idea.

5 Bryan { 11.23.06 at 11:14 am }

I’m waiting to see what they are going to do about the areas that are tribal and extend across the border. That is going to be a real mess. Maybe the tribes will start issuing their own passports.