FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 14, 2005

Schumer Secures Meeting For North Country Leaders On Passport Proposal With Federal Officials

Schumer Has Urged Feds To Come To North Country Since September; Meeting Now Set For October 19th with Plattsburgh - North Country Chamber of Commerce

Senator: We Must Find A Way To Secure The Border and Protect Commerce

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced today he has secured a meeting from officials at the U.S. Department of State who will travel to Plattsburgh on October 19th to discuss the options for required documentation for travel at the U.S.-Canada border. Alcy Frelick, Senior Advisor for the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative will hear directly from North Country business and community leaders as they brainstorm options for secure documentation when crossing the border. Schumer has been aggressively lobbying officials to come to the North Country to discuss the passport proposal since it was first announced in September.

“This meeting will give New Yorkers the opportunity to be heard on this proposal,” Schumer said. “Next week’s discussion will ensure that the federal agencies understand the implications this proposal has and how important cross-border commerce is to the North Country. This could cause huge economic hardship from Buffalo to Plattsburgh and across the Canadian border. We must find a way to secure the border and protect commerce.”

On September 1st, the Departments of State (DOS) and Homeland Security (DHS) initiated a public comment period on proposed plan to be implemented as the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative and Schumer has been working with local community and business leaders to flesh-out an alternative that both secures the border and protects commerce. The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative will require all travelers, including U.S. citizens, to and from the Americas, the Caribbean, and Bermuda to have a passport or other accepted document that establishes the bearer’s identity and nationality to enter or re-enter the United States. If implemented, this proposal would require anyone crossing the U.S.-Canada border to show a passport or other accepted documentation, including SENTRI, NEXUS and FAST program cards. The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State are accepting public comment on this proposal. The public comment period ends October 31, 2005.

At Schumer’s urging, the Departments of Homeland Security and State are also working to determine acceptable alternative documents other than a passport. Senator Schumer has asked the federal agencies for a solution that both protects and secures the border and cross-border commerce. Earlier this month, Schumer announced a similar meeting in Buffalo for October 24th where Elaine Dezenski, Acting Assistant Secretary for Border and Transportation Security Policy, discuss alternatives to passports with Western New York business and community leaders.

At Schumer’s urging, the Departments of Homeland Security and State are also working to determine acceptable alternative documents other than a passport. Senator Schumer has asked the federal agencies for a solution that both protects and secures the border and cross-border commerce. Earlier this month, Schumer announced a similar meeting in Buffalo for October 24th where Elaine Dezenski, Acting Assistant Secretary for Border and Transportation Security Policy, will discuss alternatives to passports with Western New York business and community leaders. The forum is for both US and Canadian Residents, and we urge those wishing to speak to also provide a written letter to be added to the official record.

“I want to thank my good friend Garry Douglas and the Plattsburgh – North Country Chamber of Commerce for helping me organize this important meeting,” Schumer said.

In September, Schumer launched a webpage to facilitate New Yorkers wishing to comment on the proposed Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. Linked from Schumer’s homepage, www.schumer.senate.gov, the website enables New Yorkers to participate in the public comment period, currently underway through the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State. The website has already elicited 400 responses.

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