Idiocy in action
U.S. to require passports for nearly all
By BEVERLEY LUMPKIN, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 18 minutes ago
WASHINGTON - Nearly all air travelers entering the U.S. will be required to show passports beginning Jan. 23, including returning Americans and people from Canada and other nations in the Western Hemisphere.Here's the problem.
Michael Chertoff in an interview with The Associated Press. The Homeland Security Department plans to announce the change on Wednesday.
Until now, the department had not set a specific date for instituting the passport requirement for air travelers, though the start had been expected to be around the beginning of the year. Setting the date on Jan. 23 pushes the start past the holiday season.
The requirement marks a change for Americans, Canadians, Bermudians and some Mexicans.
Currently, U.S. citizens returning from other countries in the hemisphere are not required to present passports but must show other proof of citizenship such as driver's licenses or birth certificates.
Visitors from most countries in the hemisphere are required to show passports. However, people from Canada, Bermuda — and those from Mexico who enter the U.S. frequently and have special border-crossing cards — have been allowed to use other forms of identification, including driver's licenses.
"Right now, there are 8,000 different state and local entities in the U.S. issuing birth certificates and driver's licenses," Chertoff said. Having to distinguish phony from real in so many different documents "puts an enormous burden on our Customs and Border inspectors," he said.
In a few cases, other documents still may be used for air entry into the U.S. by some frequent travelers between the U.S. and Canada, members of the American military on official business and some U.S. merchant mariners.
Under a separate program, Homeland Security plans to require all travelers, including Americans, entering the U.S. by land or sea to show a passport or an alternative security identification card starting as early as January 2008.
Most Americans never get a passport. Many, I would say most, who travel overseas, do so on a US military ID, which is accepted as a passport for the military and their dependents. It is believed that only one out of six Americans have a passport.
Most other Americans travel on their drivers licenses and birth certificates. The imposition of the cost and need for a passport, which is over $100, is going to be challenged, because it is a clusterfuck waiting to happen.
Congress is going to come under pressure to end this requirement, quickly. Someone sat in an office and thought this up without realizing how uncommon a passport is among Americans.
posted by Steve @ 12:17:00 AM