Representative John E. Sweeney (R-Clifton Park) raises concerns with Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative...

...and drums up support for legislation.

As Co-Chairman of the Congressional Northern Border Caucus, Congressman Sweeney has taken a leadership role on Canadian border security issues and the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (“WHTI”). Congressman Sweeney is working with Rep. John McHugh and supporting his legislation, H.R. 5536, The Protecting American Commerce and Travel Act to address local concerns with WHTI. The legislation:

  • Extends the WHTI deadline to September 15, 2009;
  • Requires DHS and State to develop standards for securing existing documents, such as a driver’s licenses, with the features necessary to meet WHTI requirements;
  • Sets the price of the new travel card at no more than $20 and available within 10 days;
  • Exempts children younger than 16 from the WHTI documentary requirements;
  • Requires a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis be completed before implementation; and
  • Expands expedited traveler programs such as NEXUS and FAST.

The WHTI greatly affects New York. New York as a state is first in the number of passenger vehicles crossing between the United States and Canada and second only to Michigan in trade volume with Canada. Approximately 19.5 million cars and 4.5 million trucks cross New York entry points with Canada every year, roughly 2,740 vehicles an hour. Western New York bridges carry 25% of the volume of trade between Canada and the United States. According to a report by the Canadian Tourism Agency, new documentation could result in a loss of 3.5 million trips by Canadians to the US. The estimated loss to the U.S. tourism industry is estimated at $667 million per year.

Read more here.