OTTAWA, Ont. — In comments submitted today to the US departments of State and Homeland Security, the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) urged the US not to rush ahead with implementation of new document requirements on the land border until there is ample evidence that government and citizens alike are fully prepared for the radical changes along the Canada-US border.
Under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), individuals seeking entry to the US at land border crossings will be required to present a passport, or other document proving citizenship and identity, to US Customs and Border Protection. While the law allows this measure to be implemented as late as June 2009 on the land border, the administration has targeted mid-2008 to have the new document requirements in place.
CTA, in its comments on a proposed rule outlining detailed WHTI requirements, believes there is a lot of work to be done before the US will be in a position to implement the new requirements without disrupting legitimate travel and trade between Canada and the US.
The Canadian trucking industry has never stood in outright opposition to WHTI we fully understand why the US is tightening up document requirements for all modes of travel, said CTA CEO David Bradley. But at the same time, we must recognize that the economies of both countries are highly dependent on the reliable movement of trucks across the border. It is therefore imperative that measures adopted to implement WHTI do not negatively impact this flow. The US government must take the time it needs to get this right, rather than holding itself to an arbitrary, self-imposed deadline.
According to CTA, the following must be in place before the US proceeds to implement WHTI on the land border: -Significant passport backlogs must be cleared in the US and Canada -There must be no evidence of backlogs in FAST and NEXUS card processing -Any technology deployed in support of WHTI must be field tested -The enhanced drivers license concept, which has generated interest among most border states and provinces, must likewise be deployed and tested
In addition to the above, the CTA submission urges the US to ensure broad acceptance of the FAST card as a passport substitute for truck drivers; that the US government undertake an extensive awareness and outreach program; and that a transitional enforcement plan be developed to deal with individuals who arrive at the US border without the required documentation.
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