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Schumer Proposes Legislation To Ensure That Passport Alternatives Are Allowed At US-Canada Border

After Traveling Across New York, Schumer Brings Concerns of Upstate Business and Community Leaders To Washington To Develop a Better Plan that Protects Security and CommerceSchumer Files Amendment To Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Bill Mandating DHS Officials Include More Affordable and Accessible Alternatives To Passports Schumer: We Need a Solution That Keeps Us Safe, But Doe

US Senator Charles E. Schumer today introduced federal legislation to reverse plans for a passport requirement at the USCanada border. Schumer filed an Amendment to the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations bill, mandating that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) accept more affordable and accessible alternatives to passports. A vote on the amendment is expected this week during consideration of the overall bill on the floor. Passage of the overall bill is expected sometime this week, at which time the bill will be sent conference committee to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate versions.

We can have both, security and crossborder commerce, Schumer said. This plan was poorly thought out and did not take into account how the border works in New York, where people cross it all the time for work, shopping, and leisure. We need to focus on solutions and thats why I have proposed ideas so that we can have both security and efficient commerce along the USCanada border.

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 Watertown 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.