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Senate Passes WHTI Deadline Extension

May 18, 2006

Senate Passes WHTI Deadline Extension
May 18, 2006 – Yesterday the U.S. Senate passed by voice vote an amendment to the immigration bill that would extend the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative – also known as the passport issue – by 18 months.

The delay would extend the deadline of WHTI from January 2008 to June 2009. Currently, the WHTI is scheduled to be implemented in two stages, with the passport requirements taking effect Dec. 31, 2006, for air and sea travel, and Dec. 31, 2007, for land border crossings.

The amendment, known as the Stevens-Leahy Amendment, seeks to delay implementation for the WHTI until June 2009 by simply amending Section 7209(b)(1) of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act to read "June 1, 2009," instead of "January 1, 2008."

"The National Tour Association is pleased with this development, however there is still more to be done," said NTA President Hank Phillips, CTP. "A delay gives the government time to fix what needs to be fixed. If the delay does not result in changes, then little has been accomplished."

Such changes include those outlined by Senator Norm Coleman’s (R-Minn.) amendment, which would not only extend the deadline, but also do the following:

    1. It would waive fees for a PASS card for those under 18.
    2. It sets a ceiling of $20 for "passport cards."
    3. It establishes a system of 72-hour passes for Americans crossing the northern land border who certify that they were unable to apply in advance for passport cards.

Sen. Coleman is attempting to get other senators to sign on or "cosponsor" this legislation before he submits it to the floor. Therefore, NTA is asking its U.S.-based members to contact their two senators and encourage them to cosponsor the "Coleman Amendment to S.2611." To get contact information for senators, please click here, or to see a sample letter that can be used to contact senators, click here.

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