Businesses along the Canadian border have taken a double hit from the recession and the recent law requiring Canadians to have a passport to enter the U.S. Prior to this law, Canadians could cross the border with a driver’s license or sometimes without any documentation at all. Businesses that benefitted from traveling Canadians report that business has dropped more than 20% since the law took affect. Some believe that this is due to many of their former customers not having passports.
While this is certainly an unfortunate situation for these business owners, many businesses across the nation have seen their business drop off by 20% or even more regardless of where they are located because of the recession. To place the blame solely at the feet of the passport requirement is, I believe, inaccurate and I hope that pressure is not brought to bear to ease the new regulations.
Protecting our borders is not only about illegal immigration, which is not really an issue with Canada. It’s also about the massive drug trade that comes down from Canada and the need to protect ourselves from terrorists who may try to enter the country from Canada. Having an open border policy may make for cozy neighbors, but it makes controlling either the drug situation or halting potential terrorists impossible. Crossing such a long border, much of it through rural and wilderness areas, without being detected is easy enough without letting people drive in on our roads and bridges, transporting who knows what, without requiring an internationally recognized form of identification. Passports are more difficult to obtain and more difficult to forge than drivers licenses, making them a better safeguard against crime and terror. Hopefully in time, the majority of Canadians and Americans will acquire a passport making this a moot issue.