New Canadian border rules take time to implement

By Freedom New Mexico

The Department of Homeland Security has announced it plans to tighten the identification requirements along the U.S.-Canadian border as of Thursday when it will no longer simply allow either Americans or Canadians to come into the country by presenting a driver’s license and declaring their citizenship.

Not only would this new requirement create additional delays along the border and cost border communities money, it is in direct defiance of a law just passed by Congress.

In short, this initiative is bureaucratic arrogance of breathtaking proportion.

It’s not that tightening identity requirements along the northern border is necessarily a bad idea. But doing so will be difficult and expensive — perhaps impossible — to implement just now, in a matter of days.

Congress recognized that reality when it passed a law postponing until 2009 the implementation of a 2004 rule requiring a passport and proof of citizenship, rather than the more relaxed standards that have worked fairly well for years.

You may remember the DHS was forced to suspend a similar rule for air travelers last summer when the requirement to show a passport created a huge backlog at U.S. passport offices.

Forcing U.S. citizens to get a passport if they want to go to Canada and return could create a similar jam. There’s not enough time for all the U.S. citizens who routinely go into Canada and return to get passports between now and next week, even if the passport office was operating at top efficiency, which it isn’t.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff played the fear card, claiming that failure to act now will lead to “another 9/11 Commission” investigating another attack by foreigners.

Unfortunately, acting now will create disruption for travelers and cost businesspeople in both the U.S. and Canada money.

The new rule might well become practical in a year or two, but right now it isn’t. The DHS needs to back off.