Sec. Chertoff spoke today at the 2006 Global Travel and Tourism Summit; his full remarks are available here. The speech was a reprise of his remarks in January with Sec. Rice to unveil the “Secure Borders and Open Doors” initiative. I was very supportive of this initiative when it was announced, and continue to believe that the initiative includes a number of excellent ideas. But I’m increasingly worried that the initiative is moving forward more slowly than it should. The FY 2007 budget request for DHS did not mention the Rice-Chertoff initiative’s proposals, and today’s speech seemed to suggest that deadlines were starting to slip:
For example, in January Sec. Chertoff said:
To strike the right balance between security and facilitation, we have to incorporate 21st century technology and innovation, and so by the end of this year our departments anticipate issuing a new, inexpensive secure travel card for land border crossings that will meet the documentation requirements of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative…
But today on the same topic he said:
Weâ€™re working with the Department of State diligently to produce this PASS card by early next year.
The ideas in the Rice-Chertoff initiative are too important to delay or neglect. Hopefully DHS and the State Department will move forward expeditiously with many of the items, and will advocate for them in Congress during the current appropriations cycle.