WASHINGTON, D.C. — US Congress has approved a bill that delays implementation of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) until June, 2009.
The WHTI would require Canadians to present a passport to cross into the US. Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, chairwoman of the House Rules Committee, has been fighting to have the initiative shelved.
“This is truly a great victory in our fight to prevent the foolishly misguided requirements of WHTI from devastating the economy of Western New York by unnecessarily hampering travel and trade,” said Slaughter. “I am very pleased that I was able to include language that prohibits the implementation of WHTI anytime before June 2009, so that we can develop a comprehensive policy that not only secures our borders, but ensures that our regional economy will be able to reap the benefits from both trade and tourism.”
She added: “The traffic across our northern border is critical to our economy, and we must never sacrifice our relationship with Canada with an ill-conceived attempt to increase border security. I have long said that economic security and physical security are not mutually exclusive. We can, and must, have both.”
Slaughter was also able to withhold $75 million in Department of Homeland Security funding earmarked towards implementing the program, until the Department reports the outcome of its multiple driver’s licence and technology trials.
“My language will help prevent the chaos that we’ve already seen caused with the implementation of WHTI in its current form. By fixing this initiative, we will keep our economy growing and our land borders open to the travel and trade that is a necessity and a right for border residents,” Slaughter concluded.
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