Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

January 18, 2006

New PASS travel cards: $50

Filed under: Border Security,Technology for HLS — by Christian Beckner on January 18, 2006

Press reports today indicate that the new People Access Security Service (PASS) cards, announced yesterday and intended to serve as a substitute to a passport for U.S. compliance with the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), will cost about $50 per person. This story suggests that the PASS cards will include both biometric and RFID technology.

I’m generally supportive of the objectives of the WHTI, but this cost is a lot higher than I would have anticipated. I would not be surprised to see a negative reaction to this price point from members of Congress in border states and districts. There have been a number of newspaper articles in recent months in places like Maine, Texas, and Washington state expressing local concern about the WHTI requirements – and I think it’s likely that this will do little to assuage that concern.

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5 Comments »

181

Pingback by Homeland Security Watch » Blog Archive » Daypasses for crossing the border?

February 2, 2006 @ 12:45 am

[...] Bellingham sits about 20 miles south of the US-Canada border in Washington state, so there’s obviously a lot of concern there about new requirements for everyone to have to get a $50 PASS card or a $100 passport to travel to Canada. This article support my contention last week that the $50 price of PASS cards was too high and would generate political pushback. [...]

259

Pingback by Homeland Security Watch » Blog Archive » New border rules cause concern in Washington state

February 17, 2006 @ 8:26 pm

[...] This story matches with my prior contention that there would be pushback against the implementation of the WHTI rules- a hunch based primarily on my experience growing up close to the Canadian border in Washington state, not far from Bellingham. I can see the value of the WHTI rules from a border security perspective, but I think DHS needs to find ways to reduce the cost of the proposed PASS cards to $25-$30 and make the application process relatively easy – for example, not requiring people to submit their own passport photos. Otherwise the negative economic impact on cross-border trade and tourism could outweigh the potential security benefits. [...]

526

Pingback by Homeland Security Watch » Blog Archive » WHTI angst on the US-Canada border

April 6, 2006 @ 4:42 pm

[...] When the $50 estimate for the PASS cards was made in mid-January, I predicted that this would receive a strong adverse reaction from border state and border district members of Congress. I think the goals of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative are appropriate, but I don’t think that a purely fee-funded approach is the optimal route for this program. DHS and the State Department should find ways to reduce costs, and the Congress should consider subsidizing the cards, realizing that cross-border travel is a public good and of broad economic benefit to the United States and Canada. [...]

Pingback by Homeland Security Watch » Blog Archive » US-Canada border security under scrutiny

June 1, 2006 @ 11:10 am

[...] The article notes that inspectors will still have the discretion to wave through people who they recognize – which at many of the smaller New England checkpoints, is probably a very high percentage of crossers. And it notes that “five Canadian provinces and the six New England states agreed this month to work together to postpone” the implementation of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, which would require people crossing the US-Canada border to possess certain types of biometric ID’s, e.g. the PASS card. [...]

Pingback by Homeland Security Watch » Blog Archive » GAO looks at the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative

June 5, 2006 @ 8:50 pm

[...] State and DHS should heed these words of warning, and work to address the specific challenges that it describes. They should also look at scrapping the self-imposed deadline of January 1, 2007 for air- and/or sea-based entry, and focus instead on meeting the January 1, 2008 deadline for all modes. It’s possible that Congress will extend the deadline, but I wouldn’t count on it, at least during the 109th Congress, nor would that solve the real problem – which is the fact that prohibitively-expensive border ID’s are going to deter people from traveling, which will create a negative impact on the U.S. and Canadian economies. State and DHS need to find ways to make the planned PASS cards more affordable, by driving down their component costs and/or subsidizing them via appropriated funds. [...]

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