Can-Am mayors urge alternative to passport rule

WINDSOR, Ont. — Canadian and American city mayors at a joint summit called on the Bush administration to rethink its controversial Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.

The U.S.-Canada Mayors Summit on WHTI urges the U.S. government to shelve the policy, which requires travelers, including U.S. citizens, to have valid passports or yet-to-be determined substitute travel document in hand to cross into the U.S.

The initiative was supposed to take effect Jan. 1, 2008, although in May the U.S. Senate adopted an immigration bill amendment that could see it delayed until June 1, 2009.

“Cities and communities on both sides of the border, like Detroit and Windsor, have a long history of friendship, business, institutional and educational relationships that benefit both countries. We recognize the need for border security, but WHTI as proposed could do serious damage to these relationships. We need time to get this solution right,” said Mayor Eddie Francis of Windsor, Ont. — home to the Canadian side of the busiest border crossing in the continent.

The Summit called on both federal governments to include cities and communities in developing solutions for more effective border security that will continue and strengthen cross-border relationships.

“We need the border open to allow the economic and cultural vibrancy of both countries to continue to flourish,” said Francis’ cross-border counterpart, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who co-hosted the event. “Local municipalities must have a voice. We want to make sure that people know that we are joined at the hip on this issue.”

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