Weekly Feature

2008-01-23 / Front Page

Border crossing requirements to change next week

by JESSICA L. FINCH Associate Editor

As the date nears when more identification will be needed to cross into the United States from Canada, Rep. Thomas Reynolds, R-Amherst, is asking for stricter punishment for Department of Motor Vehicles employees who tamper with identifications.

In light of the recent arrest of an Erie County DMV clerk, who was allegedly selling fake identification to teenagers, Reynolds is calling for increased penalties for such incidents.

Beginning Thursday, Jan. 31, in order to cross the border by land and sea, documents will need to be presented to prove citizenship and identity. Oral declarations of citizenship will no longer be accepted.

In response, the DMV will be charged with issuing enhanced driver's licenses in summer 2008. These enhanced licenses will allow Western New Yorkers to prove citizenship and identity with one document.

Due to the nature of enhanced driver's licenses, Reynolds is urging state officials to increase the sanctions for employees who tamper with documents. He spoke about the call for action during a press conference at the Erie County Auto Bureau on Monday.

Information on what the changes would be, or when they could take place, were not available at press time.

For anyone traveling to and from Canada after Jan. 31, one of the following documents will be accepted to prove both identity and citizenship - U.S. or Canadian passport; U.S. passport card (available this spring); trusted traveler cards (NEXUS, SENTRI, or FAST); state- or province-issued enhanced driver's license. (When available, this secure driver's license will denote identity and citizenship.)

Identification documents: driver's license or identification card issued by a federal, state, provincial, county, territory or municipal authority; and U.S. or Canadian military identification card.

All identification documents must have a photo, name and date of birth.

Citizenship documents: U.S. or Canadian birth certificate issued by a federal, state, provincial, county, territory or municipal authority; U.S. consular report of birth abroad; U.S. certificate of naturalization; U.S. certificate of citizenship; and U.S. citizen identification card.

There are additional documents accepted. For a complete list, visit Reynolds' Web site at http:// reynolds. house. gov.

Erie County Clerk Kathy Hochul said the burden of the new enhanced driver's licenses will be time consuming and possibly costly.

She has been requesting funding from Homeland Security since June 2007 to pay for additional staff to process the IDs. There are 644,000 licensed drivers in WNY, and she said if even a fourth apply it would be a tremendous burden on the DMV offices.

Hochul also requested that Erie County be a pilot for this program.

"With our proximately to the border I think we should go first," she said.

A June 2008 roll out date is estimated but Hochul said she has not yet been told what documentation residents will need to bring nor how much this will cost them.

"I sounded the alarm early," she said about expected cost and time requirements. "Its a good idea but I want to make sure we do it right and don't additionally burden the taxpayers."

Return to top