Washington, DC – Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) offered legislation, approved by the Senate today, to ensure that Americans who travel to Canada will be able to use other documents, besides passports, in order to re-enter the United States by land. The legislation was offered as an amendment to the Homeland Security Appropriations bill that is currently being considered by the Senate. The measure prevents any homeland security funding from being used to develop regulations that would require passports to be the only acceptable identification for Americans returning through land border crossings from Canada. The legislation effectively requires the Department of Homeland Security, as it develops its Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, to define an alternative form of documentation that would be accepted for Americans traveling from Canada into the U.S. by land.
“This legislation protects the interests of people living in border communities as the Secretary of Homeland Security develops the new travel initiatives,” said Senator Collins. “The amendment requires DHS to develop a plan that will allow travelers to enter the United States from Canada, by land, using documents other than passports that are sufficient to denote identity and citizenship. As the details of the proposed travel initiative are fleshed out, it is imperative that we strike a balance between the security of our nation’s borders and the free flow of people and commerce to and from the United States.”
The amendment that the Senate approved today reinforces a similar provision that Senator Collins had included in the Intelligence Reform Law to help expedite the travel of frequent travelers, including those who live in border communities. That provision originated from a recommendation made in the 9/11 Commission report.