BY A CORRESPONDENT
February 25, 2007
The United States has announced that children of the
US and Canada will be exempted from the new rules
requiring travellers to show passports when entering the
Children aged 15 or younger with parental consent will
be allowed to cross the United States-Canada border at
land and sea entry points with certified copies of their
birth certificates instead of passports.
Youths aged 16 through 18 travelling with school,
religious, cultural or athletic groups under adult
supervision also will be allowed to use only their birth
“This is going to make it a lot easier for kids to cross
the border,” United States Homeland Security Secretary
Michael Chertoff said.
After the announcement, Chertoff toured the
Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, a link with Windsor, Ontario,
under the Detroit River.
The Department of Homeland Security may approve other
documents, in addition to birth certificates, later.
The new rules will possibly take effect on January 1,
2008, when the Department of Homeland Security’s Western
Hemisphere Travel Initiative regarding land and sea
travel are scheduled to be implemented.
The new announcement came a day after Canadian
Ambassador Michael Wilson told The Washington Times that
the travel initiative must be implemented with “clarity
and flexibility” to avoid damaging the world’s most
dynamic bilateral trading relationship.
Trade between the United States and Canada totaled over
$740 billion in 2006. Canada also is the leading foreign
trade partner for 39 US states.
Americans and Canadians who travel by air, regardless of
age, must show passports when crossing the border, as
mandated by the initiative’s first phase, which went
into effect in January 2007. Those rules, which deal
only with air travel, also apply to citizens of Mexico,
Bermuda or Caribbean nations who enter the United
States, as well as Americans re-entering the country.
The rules were mandated by Congress in 2004 as a
response to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks
and the recommendations by the September 11 Commission
that border security be tightened.
In October 2006, Congress had passed an amendment
sponsored by Senator Patrick J Leahy (Vermont-Democrat),
and Senator Ted Stevens (Alaska-Republican) to postpone
the implementation of the land and sea rules for as long
as 17 months, or until June 2009, if certain conditions
have not been met.