CTA urges US avoid rush to new documentations

Sept. 4, 2007
The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) is urging the United States to avoid rushing into implementation of new document requirements

The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) is urging the United States to avoid rushing into implementation of new document requirements on the land border until there is ample evidence that government and citizens alike are fully prepared for what CTA said are "radical changes."

“The Canadian trucking industry has never stood in outright opposition to WHTI (Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative)--we fully understand why the US is tightening up document requirements for all modes of travel,” said CTA Chief Executive Officer David Bradley. “But at the same time, we must recognize that the economies of both countries are highly dependent on the reliable movement of trucks across the border. It is therefore imperative that measures adopted to implement WHTI do not negatively impact this flow. The US government must take the time it needs to get this right, rather than holding itself to an arbitrary, self-imposed deadline.”

The CTA comments follow similar concerns expressed by the Border Trade Alliance (BTA), which asked the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for the immediate end to the current policy of checking and manually entering drivers license information, but not verifying citizenship. (See other coverage on border documentation in Bulk Transporter online.)

CTA said that under the WHTI regulations individuals seeking entry to the United States at land border crossings will be required to present a passport or other document proving citizenship and identity to US Customs and Border Protection officials. While the law allows this measure to be implemented as late as June 2009 on the land border, the US administration has targeted mid-2008 to have the new document requirements in place.

CTA said it believes there is a further work to be done before the United States will be in a position to implement the new requirements without disrupting legitimate travel and trade between the two countries.

According to CTA, the following must be in place before the US proceeds to implement WHTI on the land border:

•Significant passport backlogs have been cleared in the US and Canada.

•There is no evidence of backlogs in Free and Secure Trade (FAST) and NEXUS cards processing. (US and Canadian government programs to expedite border crossings for pre-approved travelers.)

•Any technology deployed in support of WHTI has been field tested.

•The enhanced drivers license concept, which has generated interest among most border states and provinces, has likewise been deployed and tested.

In addition to the above, the CTA submission urges the US to ensure broad acceptance of the FAST card as a passport substitute for truck drivers; that the US government undertake an extensive awareness and outreach program; and that a transitional enforcement plan be developed to deal with individuals who arrive at the US border without the required documentation.