Schumer: New Enhanced Driver Licenses Nixes Onerous Need For New Yorkers To Purchase Costly Passports To Cross Northern Border - Senator Brokered Deal Between NYS And DHS To Quickly Approve New Secure Licenses
To Stave Off Burdensome Passport Requirement, Schumer Brokered Deal Between NYS and Secretary Chertoff to Break Logjam and Move Forward in Approving Plan for New Drivers LicensesJust Last Month, Under Questioning from Schumer during a Judiciary Hearing, Chertoff Publically Confirmed that New York's Enhanced Drivers License Plan would be Approved in the Near FutureSchumer: Enhanced Driver's Licenses will offer Top-Notch Security While Preventing Any Undue Burden on Commerce
Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer hailed the announcement that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has agreed to permit New York State to issue an Enhanced Driver License (EDL), and argued that the new development makes it unnecessary for New York State residents to purchase costly passports to travel between Canada and the United States, as would otherwise be required under the new Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) rules. Schumer spent over two years pressuring DHS to approve the Enhanced Drivers License system in New York State, and just last month urged DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff before the Senate Judiciary Committee to quickly approve the new permits.
Schumer has been a longtime advocate for the enhanced driver license, arguing that it offers the state cuttingedge security while ensuring that the state's border communities are not unduly burdened by onerous and illadvised passport rules. Under WHTI, New York State residents traveling between Canada and the United States would otherwise be required to carry passports, slamming families across Upstate with the heavy cost of purchasing passports and handicapping the regional economy. A new passport costs $100 for an adult or $85 for anyone younger than 16.
"We have always said that the Enhanced Driver Licenses is the way to go, and the agreement I helped broker between the New York State and Secretary Chertoff in Washington, D.C. is now bearing fruit," said Senator Schumer. "We must move full speed ahead because with the Enhanced Driver License we can have our cake and eat it too: it strengthens our security but places no burden on crossborder commerce or on Americans and Canadians traveling between the two countries. With the Enhanced Drivers Licenses in place, there is no longer any need to force New Yorkers to comply with the illadvised passport requirement."
Early in 2007, Schumer met with Secretary Chertoff in Buffalo and pushed him to agree to approve New York State's bid to implement the Enhanced Drivers License. Chertoff was receptive and agreed to a meeting in Washington D.C. The Senator urged the Governor's office and DHS to move forward with the EDLs, and kept up the pressure as state and federal authorities continued their discussions. Finally, just last month, during a Senate Judiciary committee hearing, Schumer ramped up pressure again on DHS to quickly approve the state's bid to issue the licenses. Under Schumer's questioning, Chertoff confirmed New York State's license plan would be confirmed and approved in the near future.
Today, Schumer hailed the announcement that DHS has finally agreed to permit NYS to issue enhanced licenses, and argued that this will stave off the bad effects of burdensome WHTI requirements that are due to kick in next year, exacerbating the alreadylong waits along the border.
In 2006, Congress pushed back the deadline for WHTI implementation from January 1, 2008 to June1, 2009 due to ample evidence that DHS would be hardpressed to meet the 2008 deadline. However, DHS exploited other legal authority in order to demand birth certificates at the border starting in January 2008. Senator Schumer has been a leading critic of Doss's poor planning and execution of entry requirements on the northern border.
The United States and Canada have the largest binational trade relationship in the world. Trade with Canada supports an estimated 350,000 jobs in New York alone. Fully 25% of all New York State exports, accounting for $10.5 billion, go to Canada every year. The impact of tourism and spurofthemoment trips is also staggering, with Canadians accounting for 2.2 million visits to New York in 2002, injecting $389 million into the local economies.
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