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Schumer Meets With Canadian Ambassador To Urge DHS To Treat Fast Ferry As Land Crossing Under Any Passport Proposal

If Implemented, New Documentation Rule Would Require Compliance by 2007 For Air and Sea Crossings, 2008 for Land Crossings Schumer and Canadian Ambassador Lobby To Give Fast Ferry An Extra Year

Schumer: New Rule Could Pose Disadvantage For Fast Ferry And Rochester

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer met late Wednesday with the Canadian Ambassador to the United States, Frank McKenna, and announced they would urge the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to treat the Fast Ferry, which provides service from Rochester to Toronto, as a land crossing under The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI). In its current form, WHTI proposes two implementation dates: December 31, 2006 for air and sea crossings; and December 31, 2007 for land crossings. Schumer and McKenna expressed concern that categorizing the Fast Ferry as a sea crossing, thereby requiring the new documentation for Fast Ferry customers one year before this requirement goes into effect at local land crossings, will present a serious competitive disadvantage for the Fast Ferry, an important economic engine for both Rochester and Toronto.

We know that requiring passports could cripple the economy in Western and Northern New York, Schumer said. Whatever final plan is agreed upon, we must make sure the Fast Ferry in Rochester is not treated at a disadvantage compared with land crossings. The Fast Ferry provides an easier, more efficient and relaxing trip to and from Toronto and we must preserve that benefit.

Schumer, with Ambassador McKennas support, wrote a letter to DHS Secretary Chertoff urging him to designate the Fast Ferry as land crossing or to provide a uniform implementation date for all Northern Border crossings if the rule is implemented. Schumer has been active in urging the Departments of Homeland Security and State to determine acceptable alternative documents other than a passport. On September 1st, when the public comment period on WHTI started, Schumer urged them to visit New York to hear directly from those impacted directly by the proposal. Schumer also launched a webpage to facilitate New Yorkers wishing to comment on the proposal. Linked from Schumers homepage,, the website enables New Yorkers to participate in the public comment period.

In his letter, Schumer wrote, We believe that a sea crossing was meant to indicate cruise lines and other similar vessels especially those sailing to the US from Bermuda and the Bahamas. That is why we are writing today to ask that if and when this rule is implemented, that it be implemented uniformly along the Northern Borderwith one implementation date for all Northern Border crossings. We ask that you do this either by defining all Northern Border crossings as land crossings by virtue of their nature simply as alternatives to the traditional land crossings or by another means that you see fit.

WHTI 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 bearers identity and nationality to enter or reenter 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 until October 31, 2005.