Americans Must Have Passports
To Visit Canada Soon


The U.S. State Department and the Department of Homeland Security announced Tuesday that, by 2008, Americans returning home from Mexico, Canada, Panama and Bermuda must have a passport in order to get back in. Currently, U.S. citizens returning from these countries don,t need this document.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told The Associated Press that the United States had to take every precaution to screen out "people who want to come in to hurt us."
This requirement, however, won,t do anything to prevent terrorists from getting into the country; instead, it will inconvenience Americans who otherwise have no need to obtain passports.
Do government officials really think this requirement would stop terrorists and prevent another 9/11? Guess what? All the Sept. 11 hijackers entered this country legally. Passport requirements would not have kept them out.
Can bureaucrats actually believe such a directive will put a dent in illegal immigration? Here on the Mexican border, thousands of undocumented immigrants cross over illegally each day. Passport requirements will not keep them out.
Did the feds, in fact, conclude that this measure won,t be intrusive and inconvenient for the hundreds of thousands of Americans who travel to and from Mexico or Canada daily for business and pleasure? Passport requirements will keep them from doing so.
This additional, unnecessary imposition will hurt the border economies of the United States, Mexico and Canada. But don,t take our word for it.
"I think it,s a huge mistake," said Steve Ahlenius, president of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce. " I think it,s a recipe for a huge mess."
"It just makes no sense," said Mike Allen, president of the McAllen Economic Development Corp. "No other country in the world has these restrictions."
The rule changes also will force Canadians " who comprise a significant share of the Rio Grande Valley,s winter visitors " to show their passports upon entering the United States.
In an era in which free trade and free movement have expanded the Valley,s economy, an attempt to curtail movement " and that,s what the passport requirement will do " will hamper economic growth. This will affect not just South Texas, but the entire border region, both the north and south boundaries.
But the matter goes beyond economics to impinge on our liberties as Americans. There are millions of Americans along the borders who have no need or desire to get a passport. Requiring that they do so is yet another attempt by the federal government to create the equivalent of a national identification card.
The Bush administration should drop this onerous demand, and the Valley,s representatives in Washington, Lloyd Doggett, Rubén Hinojosa and Solomon Ortiz, as well as Texas, senators, John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison, should do everything in their power to make them do so.



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