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'Your Papers, Please' Coming to Canada and Mexico

In a move that likely will have a large, negative effect on tourism, the Bush Administration announced new rules today that will require Americans to have a passport if they want to re-enter the U.S. from Canada, Mexico, or the Carribean. The new program is the "Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative."

[I]t will require U.S. citizens to show a passport to re-enter the U.S. from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and Panama. Canadian citizens will also have to show their passport to enter the U.S.

According to the State Department, a passport or other accepted travel document will be required starting December 31, 2005 for air and sea travel to or from the Caribbean, Bermuda, Central and South America. The documents will be required for all air and sea travel to or from Mexico and Canada starting December 31, 2006. Starting December 31, 2007, the documents will be required for all air, sea, and land border crossings.

Passports now cost $97 for people over 16 and take six to eight weeks to arrive. The State Deparment is contemplating additional "papers" that will be acceptable in the future:

As previously noted, the passport (U.S. or Foreign) will be the document of choice for entry or re-entry into the U.S. However, another document that we anticipate will be acceptable under the travel initiative is the Border Crossing Card, (BCC – or "laser visa"). Currently, the BCC serves in lieu of a passport and a visa for citizens of Mexico traveling to the U.S. from contiguous territory. Other documents that we anticipate will be acceptable under this Initiative are the Customs and Border Protection Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection (SENTRI), NEXUS and Free and Secure Trade (FAST) program cards.

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  • Isn't it nice how this policy comes out right after they that all new passports will have RFID devices. Could passports become national identity papers? OK, maybe not, but this is a way to get lots of new RFID based passports out there.

    Nothing new here? and yes allen that is something politically intersting isn't it? but remember if you go into mexico you have always had to have a passport, 10 miles inside mexico, for canada its been 50 miles inside for 20 yrs..nothing new.

    I've managed to travel as far as Ottawa without a passport in the last twenty years, so I'm pretty sure this is something new.

    Wait a minute--you mean up until now you didn't need a passport to enter the U.S. if you claimed to be a U.S. citizen? That can't be true. There must be something missing in this story. What did they do, stamp your hand on the way out like at Disneyland? If all they're requiring is a passport, I can't see how anyone can object to that. Certainly there are more pressing issues for us to focus on.

    It sure will hurt spring break business in Tijuana . I suspect it might have something to do with controlling buying medicines over the border.

    Re: 'Your Papers, Please' Coming to Canada and Mex (none / 0) (#6)
    by s5 on Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 09:28:36 PM EST
    Well, Canada and Mexico *are* different countries than the US. I was surprised to find out that you didn't need a passport to reenter when I first travelled to Canada. Even Australia and New Zealand require passports when entering one from the other. Who knows, maybe having a passport and being forced to use it will remind Americans that they actually live in a world with other countries. It's like when right wingers say "well if you don't like it here, then MOVE! ha ha ha ha!" As if you can just move to another other country. It's like they think they're free to go anywhere they want on their own terms and be automatically received, like you are when driving from Boston to New York.

    That can't be true.
    When I travelled to Ottawa some years ago all that was checked on entry to the U.S. was my driver's license. A passport was an acceptable alternative, but it wasn't required. Of course, on one occasion all that was checked on entry to Canada was my employee ID, as I worked for a Canadian company.

    I went all the way to St. John's, NFLD about 5 years ago without a passport. My entire extended family went further than 50 miles into Ontario for a wedding about 2 weeks after September 11th, and few, if any, of us have passports. So it sounds new to me.

    It's not so bad. You should have a passport anyway. Makes fleeing tyranny easier. =P I am in a land-locked country, and we have to show passports at all checkpoints, regardless of political/ economic/whatever relationships. No big deal.

    Re: 'Your Papers, Please' Coming to Canada and Mex (none / 0) (#10)
    by Tony on Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 02:30:07 AM EST
    My wife, who does not have a birth certificate (the hospital filed it with the state of California, which failed to issue it) or baptisim papers (the church was struck by lightning and burned down) is finding it rather difficult to get a passport. We joke about New Mexico not being one of the states (so many people outside of here think we are still part of Mexico) - yet there may be a time in the near future to travel to another state we'll have to present our internal papers...

    I've travelled a lot in Canada, including taking a car ferry to NFLD and never had a passport. The only thing I had to do to cross the border back to the US was talk to the nice border agent and tell him/her where I had been, for how long, and did I have anything to declare (sort of like a fruit inspection out West). When we took our three year old daughter to Canada, the US agent asked her some questions, I guess to make sure we hadn't kidnapped her.

    I went to BC last year and even at that time it was recommended you bring your passport to avoid problems re-entering the country. Personally, I don't see the problem. Why would we want to make it so that anyone with a half-decent fake driver's license can enter this country no questions asked? It's not like we haven't already had at least one example of a would-be terrorist trying to drive in from Canada with a trunkload of explosives. If you are a citizen, get yourself a passport. They last 10 years and they are a wonderful thing to already have when you want to travel, as it's one less worry as your trip approaches. If you think you have some right to come and go as you please, no questions asked and no one being the wiser, think again. Just because we've been lax about our border controls in the past doesn't mean that was how it should be.

    Re: 'Your Papers, Please' Coming to Canada and Mex (none / 0) (#13)
    by kdog on Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 06:05:18 AM EST
    I see this as just another way to get everyones name in a database somewhere. A native North American should be able to travel freely through North America without gov't issued computer chips.

    Re: 'Your Papers, Please' Coming to Canada and Mex (none / 0) (#14)
    by kdog on Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 06:08:12 AM EST
    If you think you have some right to come and go as you please, no questions asked and no one being the wiser
    I sure do think so, jpaul. I call it freedom. Granted, freedom is messy, inconvenient for some, and very very dangerous. But it is glorious and well worth the risk.

    Re: 'Your Papers, Please' Coming to Canada and Mex (none / 0) (#15)
    by John Mann on Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 06:27:40 AM EST
    As a Canadian who grew up near the American border, it was normal for us to go shopping or drinking in Blaine, Washington. When we crossed the border at Peace Arch Park, a typical dialog was: Border guard: "Canadian citizen?" Me: "Yes." BG: "Purpose for going to the States?" Me "Just going for a few beers at the Pasttime." BG "OK, go ahead." That was that. And Peace Arch is a major border crossing. At smaller ones in rural British Columbia, they were only open during daylight or business hours, and if nobody was there after hours, you could just drive or walk across. I'm surprised the Bush administration hasn't built razor-wire fences along the border between Canada and the United States - maybe little brother Jeb will when he becomes President.

    et al - When I lived in the Seattle area, I did a lot of business in Vancouver, and going back and forth was about like coming in/out of a movie theater. But that was then and this is now. A passport handy let's you travel with no last minute headaches, and the world has changed. There is no need to whine about everything, but if you're grumpy, take it out on the terrorists. Say something like: OBL is worse than Bush! Hey, I know it will be difficult, but you can do it. Come on now. Come on...

    another toothless gesture from a hack administration. which crony owns the document contract? "No passport Senor? Cross over by the paramilitary gringos."

    kdog, Do you leave your home unlocked and doors open at all times so that other people can enoy their "freedom" to come and go as they please? One of the main purposes of government is to protect the sovereignty of the country, which includes defending its borders. You have the freedom to come and go, which is a lot more than many people in other countries can say, but you have no inalienable right to do it without anyone making note of it. There are limits to your freedom, and requiring you to prove that you are who you say you are and that you have a right to be here when you seek to re-enter the country is a reasonable limit.

    Re: 'Your Papers, Please' Coming to Canada and Mex (none / 0) (#19)
    by kdog on Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 07:44:12 AM EST
    jpaul..I understand your opinion but disagree. I'm weird that way, I feel we all have the right to roam the continent we were born on without interference. I am well aware this is an unpopular opinion. BTW..My doors are always unlocked when I'm home, and all the neigborhood kids are aware they are welcome to take a shortcut through my yard. I do think there is a difference between a private residence and a country though.

    We don' need no steenkin' passports..

    What bothers me is that, while citizens are giving up privacy, being documented, RFID'd whatever, Immigrants, legal and illegal are being deported en masse and citizens are being extradited with no probable cause, corporate and political America are conducting business as usual. - Where is the outcry over Corporate non-compliance with safety concerns? - Where is the anger that our Intelligence community is no better now (and some argue is worse) than when Bush came into office? - Where is the citizen's patrol to inspect cargo as it enters the U.S.? - Where is the accountability and due process in prosecuting suspected terrorists and sympathizers?? I'd be a lot happier showing my passport at the Canadian border if I felt I was part of a real plan as opposed to a fear-mongering political limitation to freedom. My advice - stock up on the good Moosehead now! No more packy runs over the border :)

    kdog, Fair enough. Roam as you will. But I advise you to take your passport along if you leave the country. It also comes in handy when you want to enter another country, although you might need a visa too, so plan ahead.

    Re: 'Your Papers, Please' Coming to Canada and Mex (none / 0) (#23)
    by desertswine on Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 09:47:35 AM EST
    This isn't to keep out terrorists, but rather to incorporate more controls over us the citizens.

    Re: 'Your Papers, Please' Coming to Canada and Mex (none / 0) (#24)
    by kdog on Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 10:08:39 AM EST
    That's my take too, dwine. Nothing to do with safety, everything to do with power.

    Re: 'Your Papers, Please' Coming to Canada and Mex (none / 0) (#25)
    by Sailor on Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 11:34:48 AM EST
    I've sailed into canada and the bahamas and only a cell phone or radio call was required. I've been to mexico several times and only a DL was needed, (well, except for the $50 baksheesh for the mexican border guards one time;-) Re-entering the us (as a citizen) was much more involved but didn't require a passport, just a DL, Mom's maiden name, county of birthplace and a videophone call. And then you contact customs and go thru it again. Lots of people work in one country and live in the other. This will hurt the economy in the border regions for all the countries involved and probably not make us one bit safer. If you are a terrorist you would just ship your dirty bomb on a cargo ship, hardly any inspection is done of them.

    Isn't it nice how this policy comes out right after they that all new passports will have RFID devices.
    I suspect it might have something to do with controlling buying medicines over the border.
    Just because we've been lax about our border controls in the past doesn't mean that was how it should be.
    there's always a reason for new laws, policies etc., i like these, from all over the place.
    Granted, freedom is messy, inconvenient for some, and very very dangerous. But it is glorious and well worth the risk.
    if i may add .02(in drachmas), would have it no other way. utopia! lmao! "...life is tough, it's tougher if your stupid" - j.w.

    yeah - the fact that passports are valid for 10 years and that, once issued, they can be renewed without further documentation .. that just doesn't seem to be worthwhile. In fact, it's horrifying. simply horrifying. No. Wait. Having a passport is very European. Isn't that supposed to be a good thing?

    Re: 'Your Papers, Please' Coming to Canada and Mex (none / 0) (#29)
    by John Mann on Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 03:08:50 PM EST
    Jim said: "Say something like: OBL is worse than Bush! Hey, I know it will be difficult, but you can do it. Come on now. Come on..." Bin laden's got a very long way to go before he comes close to President Bush when it comes to number of innocent people killed - but I promise, Jim, when he catches up, I'll be the first to say he's "worse".

    You must show ze papers olde man!

    Re: 'Your Papers, Please' Coming to Canada and Mex (none / 0) (#31)
    by Sailor on Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 04:19:41 PM EST
    Todd - the point was how many innocents has bush v bin laden killed, not how many they intended to kill. bush has killed more, not that he intended to, he just doesn't care about 'collateral damage.' bin laden deliberately targets civilians. It should be easy to tell the difference between then two. One is a war criminal, the other is a terrorist.

    Re: 'Your Papers, Please' Coming to Canada and Mex (none / 0) (#32)
    by Al on Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 04:53:21 PM EST
    PPJ: Say something like: OBL is worse than Bush! Hey, I know it will be difficult, but you can do it. Come on now. Come on... OBL is worse than Bush. By the way, where is OBL? (oh wait...I see...they're waiting for Osama to show up at a Canadian Consulate to try and get a Canadian passport, and then they'll nab him! Brilliant!)

    For all you Americano's thinking of comung to Canada when this all starts in 2006 better have your passports to get in here also, AN EYE FOR AN EYE !!

    Was anyone likely to go to Canada without their passport and then have it mailed to them?

    Paul in La La... Travel to Mexico has NEVER required a passport,......Requiring me to keep up my passport in order to travel to Ensenada for the weekend is ridiculous. Hello...things are different now. Does 9/11 ring a bell for you? This takeaway of our right to local travel to friendly neighbors is not going to go down happily. Once again...HELLO.... nobody is "taking your right away".... You can still go. All you have to do is prove your are who you say you are...what's the big deal? If someone gets in and sets off a nuke, you & your kind will be the first ones screaming that Bush should have checked ID's at the border. Stop whining!

    ...the first ones screaming that Bush should have checked ID's at the border.
    wrong again Beavis, we'll be the first ones screaming Bush should have checked the trucks at the border, the more likely scenario.

    'Things are different now.' Oh, really. Things are different since we stopped having legal elections in this country five years ago, and a corrupt bohunk with no brain came in and did BUPKIS to protect my beloved country, in order to stage a takeover attempt on the ME that they had been planning for a decade at least. "Once again...HELLO.... nobody is "taking your right away".... You can still go. All you have to do is prove your are who you say you are...what's the big deal?" Always did have to prove who I was. But my point is that the 'ordinary' droves who want to cross over to TJ on a Sat night, including tens of thousands of sailors and soldiers, are going to kick up such a fuss at the longer lines and at needing federal ID for their Sat. night drinking is going to make the R legislature burn this bad idea in a heartbeat.

    As someone who is a dual citizen and travels to Canada about 4 times a year, I've got no problem with it.