Insta-CoGo: Ready for Passport Cards?
The U.S. State Department has just issued the initial rule that will lead to the creation of passport cards, as opposed to the existing passport books. A passport or the new passport cards will be needed when crossing the U.S. border into Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean at some point in the future -- Congress and the Department of Homeland Security are arguing about exactly when that new requirement will go into effect.
Cruise lines, Caribbean tourism officials and citizens who live near borders with Canada and Mexico were among the most vociferously opposed to the requirement for a passport for travel in the Western Hemisphere. The passport card, which is cheaper and easier to carry because of its smaller size, was the compromise.
The ink on the rules is barely dry, and already there are complaints.
Here's why: A passport card will cost $45 for adults, $35 for kids. (Adults who already have a passport can get a passport card for $20, the amount they'll also pay for renewals after 10 years.) Some argue that's still too much. Others, noting that the fee doesn't cover the cost of consular services the State Department might have to render to someone overseas, say it doesn't cost enough.
Then there are those who worry that the so-called "vicinity read" radio-frequency ID chip will compromise personal data, even though it comes with a protective sleeve and transmits a number that won't be meaningful unless you have access to Homeland Security databases.
Some Native Americans complain that the card undermines their right to determine how to document and identify the citizenship of their own groups. And Washington state officials argued before the rule was even made that enhanced driver's licenses would be the best thing for citizens to use at border crossings.
I say thanks to the State Department for trying to please everyone, but really, border crossing security should be the paramount issue and goal of Congress. Maybe there's something I don't know, but seems logical that a single document would be better than a bunch of documents -- and if it costs $100 to produce a passport, then so be it. If you can afford a Caribbean cruise, you can kick out an extra $100 for a passport good for 10 years.
By Cindy Loose |
January 10, 2008; 7:28 AM ET
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