- The U.S. State Department and the Department of Homeland
Security announced Tuesday that, by 2008, Americans returning home from
Mexico, Canada, Panama and Bermuda must have a passport in order to get
back in. Currently, U.S. citizens returning from these countries don,t
need this document.
- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told The Associated
Press that the United States had to take every precaution to screen out
"people who want to come in to hurt us."
- This requirement, however, won,t do anything to prevent
terrorists from getting into the country; instead, it will inconvenience
Americans who otherwise have no need to obtain passports.
- Do government officials really think this requirement
would stop terrorists and prevent another 9/11? Guess what? All the Sept.
11 hijackers entered this country legally. Passport requirements would
not have kept them out.
- Can bureaucrats actually believe such a directive will
put a dent in illegal immigration? Here on the Mexican border, thousands
of undocumented immigrants cross over illegally each day. Passport requirements
will not keep them out.
- Did the feds, in fact, conclude that this measure won,t
be intrusive and inconvenient for the hundreds of thousands of Americans
who travel to and from Mexico or Canada daily for business and pleasure?
Passport requirements will keep them from doing so.
- This additional, unnecessary imposition will hurt the
border economies of the United States, Mexico and Canada. But don,t take
our word for it.
- "I think it,s a huge mistake," said Steve Ahlenius,
president of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce. " I think it,s a recipe
for a huge mess."
- "It just makes no sense," said Mike Allen,
president of the McAllen Economic Development Corp. "No other country
in the world has these restrictions."
- The rule changes also will force Canadians " who
comprise a significant share of the Rio Grande Valley,s winter visitors
" to show their passports upon entering the United States.
- In an era in which free trade and free movement have
expanded the Valley,s economy, an attempt to curtail movement " and
that,s what the passport requirement will do " will hamper economic
growth. This will affect not just South Texas, but the entire border region,
both the north and south boundaries.
- But the matter goes beyond economics to impinge on our
liberties as Americans. There are millions of Americans along the borders
who have no need or desire to get a passport. Requiring that they do so
is yet another attempt by the federal government to create the equivalent
of a national identification card.
- The Bush administration should drop this onerous demand,
and the Valley,s representatives in Washington, Lloyd Doggett, Rubén
Hinojosa and Solomon Ortiz, as well as Texas, senators, John Cornyn and
Kay Bailey Hutchison, should do everything in their power to make them