An editorial / By Dale McFeatters
Scripps Howard News Service
April 06, 2005
As of now, all that is required is a government-issued photo ID like a driver's license.
The reasons given are increased security and a reduction in the traffic in stolen and forged driver's licenses. The security threat is not an idle one. Still vivid in the authorities' memory is the December 1999 arrest of an Algerian crossing into the state of Washington from Canada with a carload of explosives intended for millennium terror bombings.
The proposed passport requirement would be in three stages. By the end of 2005, it would cover Americans returning from Bermuda, the Caribbean and Central and South America; by the end of 2006, travelers returning by air or sea from Canada and Mexico; and, by the end of 2007, everybody crossing by land borders _ tourists, commuters, business travelers.
The proposal would also require citizens of Canada, Mexico and Bermuda to show a passport to enter the United States instead, as of now, a photo ID. If the proposal is implemented, Canada says it will reciprocate.
The Bush administration should give serious consideration to the likely economic impact of tighter travel requirements, especially on border communities. About 1.2 million people enter the United States each day, hundreds of thousands of them from Canada and Mexico. Canada is our largest trading partner, with, according to the Associated Press, $1.2 billion in goods crossing the border every day and 16 million Canadians visiting the United States each year.
The principle governing our borders with Canada and Mexico has always been that they should be as free and open as possible. It's a principle worth keeping.
Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, http://www.shns.com