We have announced today a three-year phased implementation of a requirement established under Section 7209 of our Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, said Frank Moss, a U.S. State Department official, at an April 5 news conference announcing the move. This provision means that by January 1, 2008, American citizens returning…from basically anywhere in the Western Hemisphere will be required to have a passport or other documentation…issued by DHS [Department of Homeland Security] to facilitate their return to the United States.
By the end of this year, U.S. citizens returning from the Caribbean, Bermuda, and Central America will be required to have a passport. By the end of 2006, a passport will be required for all air and sea travel into the United States from every country in the Western Hemisphere. Finally, by 2008 this requirement will extend to the land borders of Mexico and Canada.
The move comes as part of a series of measures to increase the ability of the border cops to use passports to get information on travelers. The DHS has set a deadline of the end of October for the governments of 27 mainly western European countrieswhose citizens may enter the United States without a visato modify their passports to include biometric identifiers like fingerprints and make them machine readable for use in accessing computer databases.
Since January 2004, visitors to the United States from all except those 27 countries have been fingerprinted and photographed as they enter the country. Last fall these requirements were extended to the 27 visa waiver countries.
The U.S. government will be implementing similar changes to the passport to include biometric identifiers and other technology this coming year. We will begin to issue biometric passports this summer and then phase in over the next six to nine months, said Moss in the April 5 press conference.
About 23 percent of the U.S. population has a passport, Moss said. It currently costs about $100 to obtain one. Hundreds of thousands of workers cross the U.S. northern and southern borders every day, now without having to use a passport.
These moves are part of the efforts by the U.S. rulers to boost integration of their various police forces, centralize their security apparatus, and institutionalize a de facto national identification system. From immigration status, to criminal records, to watch lists, and Social Security numbers, the aim is to increase the ability of cops and other government agents to access information about individuals. Ultimately such moves strengthen the ability of cop agencies to victimize workers, concoct frame-ups, and harass those the government views as opponents of Washingtons policies.
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