OTTAWA, Ont. — The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) has presented its submission to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on its Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), which seeks to improve the ability of U.S. Customs to determine the identity and citizenship of individuals seeking entry to the United States. WHTI stems from the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, which requires Homeland Security to develop and implement a plan to require a passport or other document or combination of documents that would be sufficient to make this determination.
But with millions of citizens of both countries, including about 70,000 Canadian truck drivers crossing the border into the U.S. every year and tens of thousands more American drivers crossing into Canada, CTA is concerned that the measures ultimately adopted to satisfy U.S. security requirements at land borders could have a negative impact on efficient border crossing, causing further frustration and cost to truck drivers and carriers.
“CTA has no way of knowing how many Canadian truck drivers are currently in possession of a passport. We are told that within the general population, only about 37 per cent of Canadians have a passport and an even lower proportion of Americans do, so the risk that this could add to border delays is real, not to mention the cost,” said CTA CEO, David Bradley.
It currently costs $87 to apply for a Canadian passport. CTA is also concerned over whether governments on both sides of the border would have the resources in place to deal with tens of thousands of individuals seeking passports.
In its submission, CTA recommends the following alternatives to a passport:
1) The FAST card, which is only issued by the U.S. and Canadian governments following extensive criminal, immigration and customs checks.
2) A security-enhanced driver’s license, in combination with a birth certificate, from drivers who do not possess a FAST card.
3) In the case of non-commercial drivers, a NEXUS card or security-enhanced drivers license/birth certificate combination.
CTA has also suggested that significant lead time will be required to ensure truck drivers and other individuals can obtain the required documentation, and that there must be an extensive communications effort to ensure people are prepared.
“The choice of which document or combination of documents will be selected to meet the requirements of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative is of vital importance to the millions of individuals, including truck drivers, who cross the land border each year,” CTA stated in summary. “CTA has sought to bring forward potential solutions that will respect U.S. objectives for enhanced security but at the same time not impose new costs or complications do for travellers and truck drivers alike.”
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