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Schumer Announces Legislation To Allow Secure Alternatives To Passports At Us-Canada Border Accepted By Senate

After Traveling Across New York, Schumer Brought Concerns of Upstate Business and Community Leaders To Washington To Develop a Better Plan that Protects Security and CommerceAmendment Accepted As Part of Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Bill Schumer: We Need a Solution That Keeps Us Safe, But Doesnt Cripple Cross-Border Commerce

US Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced federal legislation to reverse plans for a passport requirement at the USCanada border has been accepted the Senate. Schumer supported a bipartisan Amendment to the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations bill, sponsored by Senator Byron Dorgan (DND) mandating that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) cannot exclusively require passports for entry into the United States. Passage of the overall bill is expected tonight, at which time the bill will be sent conference committee to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate versions.

Requiring passports at the border could cripple commerce along the USCanada border, Schumer said. While we must do everything possible to secure the border, we must do it without hurting businesses, tourism, or recreational activities. In New York, people cross the border all the time, and we must make sure any rule implemented take this into account.

Schumer today emphasized that national security is always his top priority, but that the federal government must protect the homeland without crippling crossborder commerce or the travel and tourism industry. A final plan must address the concerns of businesses leaders and the law enforcement community where the economy is dependent upon Canadian trade and commerce. According to the Canadian Consulate, Canada is New Yorks largest trading partner and Canada trade is related to 348,000 jobs in New York State.

Schumer believes passports are too expensive and too cumbersome to attain. Right now, passports cost $97 for adults and $82 for kids 16 and younger. Passports can take up to 6 weeks to obtain. This expensive and timeconsuming process is too cumbersome, and Schumer believes DHS must be more flexible without compromising homeland security.

On April 5, 2005, the Departments of State and Homeland Security announced a proposed rule that would require all U.S. and Canadian citizens to have a passport or other accepted secure document to enter or reenter the U.S. by January 1, 2008. The proposal refers to passports as the preferred document of choice. Once the rule is officially released, there will be a 60day public comment period.

Over the past several months, Schumer has traveled across New York, holding roundtable discussions in Buffalo, Rochester, and Plattsburgh regarding the new passport rule issued by DHS. Schumer heard from community and business leaders concerned with a possibly devastating economic impact on crossborder commerce, including tourism and USCanada trade.