Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

February 2, 2006

Daypasses for crossing the border?

Filed under: Border Security — by Christian Beckner on February 2, 2006

The Bellingham (WA) Herald reported this week on the possibility that border officials might issue “one-day passes” for people crossing the US-Canada border, in lieu of a passport or the recently announced PASS card:

Federal officials may create a one-day pass to allow people to cross the border without a passport or special identification card, according to a report on a Senate hearing last week.

Such a pass could allow people to cross the border “for one day on a little whim,” US-VISIT Program Director Jim Williams told the Senate’s Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, according to Congressional Quarterly.

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.

The proposed solution in this story – issuing daypasses to travelers – opens a whole new set of concerns. How will CBP give out these daypasses? What resources will it need to issue them? How will this affect traffic flow at the borders? How will CBP monitor whether people return? Overall, it seems like daypasses would create new vulnerabilities and defeat the purpose of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) from a security perspective.

Instead, DHS should find ways to make these new PASS cards cheaper than $50 (ideally by 40-50%), so that the WHTI can be enforced in a way that does not impose an undue burden on border residents.

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