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DHS Reminds Travelers Temporary WHTI Air Flexibility Ends Sept. 30

September 5, 2007

DHS Reminds Travelers Temporary WHTI Air Flexibility Ends Sept. 30
Sept. 5, 2007 –The Department of Homeland Security has issued a reminder to air carriers and the traveling public that the temporary flexibility on Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative requirements will end Sept. 30. Since June, U.S. citizens have been allowed to travel by air within the Western Hemisphere using a Department of State official proof of passport application receipt. DHS says that U.S. citizens who departed the country under this travel accommodation prior to Oct. 1 with a Department of State official proof of passport application receipt and government-issued identification will be readmitted with these same documents if returning to the United States after Sept. 30.

In June, the Bush administration announced a delay on the air requirements of WHTI for all U.S. citizens, temporarily allowing them to re-enter the United States from anywhere in the Western Hemisphere provided the traveler can prove he or she applied for a passport. The delay was brought on by extensive delays in processing passport applications.

NTA has been concerned about the impact of the WHIT requirements since they were announced in 2005. When the temporary air flexibility was announced, NTA was pleased that the departments of State and Homeland Security recognized the magnitude of the problems in implementing WHTI. Despite the delay, NTA still believes that more must be done to maintain border integrity and facilitate cross-border tourism as we look to the implementation of the land and sea requirements.

NTA has submitted comments to the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State stating that they are "woefully unprepared to implement the sea/land portion of WHTI, given the history of the air implementation" and urges that the land and sea requirements not be implemented before June 2009.

In a letter to the departments, NTA stated, "Any deadline in 2008 will likely add to the tremendous confusion surrounding cross-border travel, create significant delays at our land ports of entry, and create travel-related frustration and that simply would not occur if the proper timetable for implementation were observed. Security is not served by confusion."

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