Passports nearing reality despite requests for delay

| 9/5/2006

By Jan. 8, 2007, people entering or re-entering the U.S. by boat or aircraft from Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean will need passports.

And if you are one of the people getting in line for a passport, you may get an electronic one with a microchip installed to contain your personal information. The information is to be encrypted, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

By Jan. 8, 2008, everyone crossing the border by land will also need to carry passports, including truckers.

A State Department spokesman told The Wall Street Journal that people planning a cruise or a flight in 2007 should get a passport this fall and not wait until December.

Another interesting aspect of the passport requirement is that it applies to children and babies, too.

Some lawmakers in border states are pushing for a delay in implementation while they plan for the transition.

Since 2004, as part of a security initiative that began after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the U.S. has been fingerprinting foreign-born people entering the country with visas.

That program will continue.

Since 2004, 1,353 people have been busted for entering the U.S. with false documents, according to Homeland Security figures.