WASHINGTON, D.C. — After a meeting of North America’s leaders and a speech from the Canadian ambassador to the U.S., a firm resolution on border requirements has yet to be reached.
During a meeting in late-March between Prime Minister Stephen Harper, President George W. Bush and President Vicente Fox; the trio discussed plans to require anyone crossing the U.S. border to present a special ID card.
The U.S. announced its border ID card proposal in January, replacing the previous plan of a passport requirement at the border. Bush intends to proceed with stronger security measures at the border, but noted some sort of swipe card might meet the requirement.
The border ID card was introduced as a cheaper cost alternative to obtaining a passport. Since the announcement, a number of business leaders and lobby groups on both sides of the border have expressed concern with documentation requirements for cross-border travellers and its potential economic impact.
The leaders expressed their intentions to set up a North American Competitiveness Council in an attempt to gain insight from private industry on how to improve the economies in each country and agreed to work together to improve the flow of goods and people across their borders.
Plans to have the new land border requirements in place by Jan. 1, 2008 have been met with criticism by Canadian officials. During his first speech as ambassador to the U.S., Michael Wilson expressed concern the project will not be finished in time and asked for a study to assess the economic impact to tourism and commerce. If the study presents an unsatisfactory situation, Canadian officials will lobby Congress to delay border security measures.
Several U.S. legislators are also seeking changes to the Congress law, including an exemption for children 17 and younger, a cost limit and free day passes.
Meetings are set to be held between Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, to discuss the details of the U.S. plan.
– with files from the Canadian Press
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