Archive for Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Border traffic moves easily after ID changes

June 2, 2009

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— Fears of stalled commerce and travel didn’t materialize at U.S. border crossings Monday as people stayed home or were gently warned on the first day of stricter identification requirements for Americans returning from Mexico and Canada.

Traffic generally moved smoothly as those without proper identification stayed home or immigration officials let them pass through with a reminder to get a passport or other accepted ID.

Those crossing the Hidalgo-Reynosa International Bridge in South Texas described the light traffic Monday morning as normal, with cars and pedestrians facing short lines.

The new security rules for land and sea-border crossings require U.S. citizens to show a passport, passport card or enhanced driver’s license, which use a microchip to store a person’s information. Some citizens may also use a trusted traveler document, which require background checks and are generally used by people crossing the border regularly for business.

At the busiest passenger crossing along the northern border, the Peace Bridge between Buffalo, N.Y., and Fort Erie, Ontario, traffic flowed smoothly with Customs and Border Protection officers reporting a 95 percent compliance rate with the new ID requirement. The Peace Bridge handled 8.9 million autos and 47,100 commercial buses in 2008.

The new rules for land and sea ports under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative were supposed to have gone into effect in 2008 but were delayed a year over concerns about the impact on commerce. The requirement for re-entering the country by air went into effect in 2007.

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