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Schumer To Host Work Session With Western New York Mayors To Devise Alternative To Passport Proposal

Schumer: Now Is The Time To Roll Up Our Sleeves, Devise A Solution That Secures The Border and Protects Commerce

Senators Webpage to Encourage New Yorkers to Participate in Public Comment Period Has Elicited Over 300 Comments In Just Two Weeks

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced today he will be hosting a worksession tomorrow with five Mayors from Western New York to brainstorm options for required documentation for travel at the U.S.Canada border. 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 fleshout an alternative that both secures the border and protects commerce.

We know that requiring passports could cripple the economy in Western New York, Schumer said. So we need to think of a plan that both secures the border but also protects commerce. The Feds are asking for suggestions, so now is time to roll up our sleeves and think of a better solution one that recognizes people cross the border all the time for work, shopping, and leisure.

At tomorrows meeting, Schumer will be joined by Buffalo Mayor Anthony Massiello, Fort Erie Mayor Wayne Redekop, Niagara Falls US Mayor Vince Anello, Niagara Falls Canada Mayor Ted Salci, and Niagara On The Lake Mayor Gary Burroughs to discuss several different options as alternatives to passports. Schumer will talk about the latest ideas being discussed, including the creation of a border crossing card, which would mean a Buffalo family going to Toronto for the day does not have to have passports. The card would be walletsized and less expensive to obtain than a passport, but unfortunately it would utilize the same application process as a passport and could still take several weeks to issue. Schumer will also discuss allowing documents that comport with the REAL ID Act, since most people will already have these materials once the Act is implemented. The main problem is that REAL ID does not apply to Canadians, and REAL ID drivers licenses do not indicate whether someone is a citizen of the United States. Schumer will also discuss ways to streamline the passport application process and find ways make them less expensive and easier to obtain.

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. 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 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. The public comment period ends October 31, 2005.

At Schumers 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 crossborder commerce.

Earlier this month, Schumer launched a webpage to facilitate New Yorkers wishing to comment on the proposed Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. Linked from Schumers homepage,, 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.