Thursday, April 07, 2005

Heading for the Border? Bring A Passport.

If the Department of Homeland Security gets its way, you'll soon need a passport to get back into the U.S. from Mexico or Canada. The proposed new rules would apply to overland border crossings no later than 2008. "We want folks to think about their travel to and from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda as equivalent to taking a trip to Europe or Asia," says Homeland Security acting assistant secretary Elaine Dezenski.

Aside from putting the kibosh on spur-of-the-moment border runs, the new rules will likely put the hurt on fragile U.S./Mexican border economies that depend on tourism. It will also force a lot of poor people to fork over $100 to get passports. Currently, only about 20 percent of Americans have passports.

In addition, according to this Salon story, the State Department wants to start installing radio frequency identification technology (RFID) in U.S. passports. The RFID chips would transmit your unencrypted vital statistics to passport control officials and anyone else who gets their hands on the right kind of reader. Take that, freedom haters!

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