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US-VISIT less trouble than feared

OTTAWA, Ont. -- Landed immigrant truck drivers from Canada won't be fingerprinted every time they enter or exit the...

OTTAWA, Ont. — Landed immigrant truck drivers from Canada won’t be fingerprinted every time they enter or exit the U.S. under the new US-VISIT program.

“The CTA today l is breathing a sigh of relief today after learning that the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has decided that under the USVISIT program truck drivers that are permanent residents of Canada but who are not Canadian citizens will not have to be finger-printed and photographed each time they enter and exit the United States. It was feared that such a requirement would increase congestion and inefficiencies at the busiest border crossings, particularly in southern Ontario and the lower mainland of British Columbia where non-citizens represent a higher proportion of the truck driver population,” said a press release issued by the CTA today.

A US-VISIT fact sheet published recently by DHS states that while Customs and Border Protection officers always retain the discretion to refer a driver for US-VISIT processing as part of the inspections process, Canadian permanent resident drivers, including those in the FAST program, will only have to report for USVISIT processing when they renew their multiple-entry I-94 (typically every six months), the CTA reports.

The linkage to the multiple-entry I-94 process is significant because it means that no driver will have to stop who isn’t currently required to do so.

David Bradley, CEO of the trucking alliance, which has been promoting the idea of using the FAST card as a platform for meeting the security check/biometric requirements of a host of new U.S. security measures including US-VISIT said he was "pleased by the announcement from DHS; it makes imminent sense and will help avoid additional border disruptions while enhancing security.

"CTA appreciates the consideration and effort that both the US and Canadian governments have put into finding a workable and practical solution,” Bradley said.

Appearing before the House of Commons Subcommittee on International Trade, Trade Disputes & Investment in Ottawa yesterday, Bradley acknowledged the positive outcome on the US-VISIT program, but warned MPs that "the next few months will be critical in determining whether the border will be improved over the long-term or whether the situation will get worse, citing a host of new U.S. security measures to be introduced and the need for Canada to put border and trade issues at the top of the economic agenda and get on with the critical infrastructure investment needed at the borders and in terms of the transportation network as a whole. He said Canada needs "a ‘border czar’ a minister with the power to make decisions and the money to implement those decisions.

"No country is as vulnerable as Canada is to trade with one other country as Canada is to the United States. As a nation we need to ensure we have the infrastructure and the bilateral border management systems in place that support that trade and meet US security needs."

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