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CTA fights U.S. NSEERS program

OTTAWA, Ont. -- The U.S. has expanded its National Security Entry Exit Registration System (NSEERS) to include Cana...

OTTAWA, Ont. — The U.S. has expanded its National Security Entry Exit Registration System (NSEERS) to include Canadian residents born in Pakistan, causing concern for the Canadian trucking industry.

The NSEERS program requires individuals born in countries such as Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan or Syria to be fingerprinted and photographed upon entry to the U.S., even if they are Canadian citizens. It was implemented Sept. 11, 2002, and while it hasn’t caused major inconveniences to this point, the expansion of the program to include drivers from Pakistan could be problematic, says the Canadian Trucking Alliance.

CTA chief executive officer, David Bradley, and Bill Graham, Minister of Foreign Affairs, are calling on the U.S. government to reconsider the restrictions for Canadian citizens.

"Every day, 36,000 truck drivers cross the border into (the U.S.) and many are immigrants to Canada," says Bradley. "Our concern is that drivers with dual citizenships that are from the countries identified by the USINS will be unnecessarily and unfairly detained. This could have a toll not only in human terms, but it could also create congestion at border crossings, a shortage of drivers crossing into the U.S., possible diversion of freight to other border locations and economic loss.

Bradley has written a letter to Graham, stating "CTA has known for some time about the application of NSEERS provisions to individuals born in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan and Libya. While we were concerned about how this might impact individual Canadians and truck traffic across the border, the number of individuals involved was likely quite small, and frankly we were not aware of major disruptions since September 11, 2002, when the provisions came into force for these countries. The extension of the program to individuals born in other countries principally Pakistan adds an entirely new dimension to the issue."

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