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US representatives lobby to overturn new cross-border document requirements

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Louise Slaughter, a New York Democrat and chairwoman of the House Rules Committee has earned a ...

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Louise Slaughter, a New York Democrat and chairwoman of the House Rules Committee has earned a reputation of being a staunch supporter of US/Canada trade, and has continued her fight to remove trade barriers with a letter to Department of Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff.

In the letter, Slaughter (and over 30 of her friends from the bipartisan Northern Border Caucus), appealed to Chertoff to halt its plan to require travel documents from every person crossing the Canada/US border as of Jan. 31. The law would require everyone crossing the border to provide a passport or other accepted travel document. Slaughter said in the letter that oral declarations of citizenship should still be accepted until full implementation of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) in June, 2009.

“As a northern border community, we truly understand the unique relationship we have with Canada – and see ourselves as one community with a river running through it,” said Slaughter. “Because of this relationship, it is vital that all we keep our borders open for the trade and travel.”

She expressed concern about the requirement for kids to show birth certificates, a requirement that would even apply to children travelling by truck with their parents.

“The DHS proposal will do more harm than good,” said Representative Bart Stupak. “The agency has not met its obligation to inform travelers about the new requirements which will lead to confusion, increased delays and disrupted commerce. This is an ill-advised policy that will significantly limit trade and tourism.”

“Ending the practice of allowing oral declarations at the Northern border and imposing onerous requirements in its place just doesn’t make sense,” Rep. Earl Pomeroy added. “We will keep pushing the administration to take enough time to get this right and make sure that we secure our border in a way that does not economically disadvantage U.S.-Canada border communities.”

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