Border security plan delayed


WASHINGTON (AP) — A plan to tighten U.S. borders by
requiring passports or tamper-resistant identification cards from
everyone entering the country by land from Mexico and Canada has been

House and Senate lawmakers agreed to push back the
program by 17 months, saying they want to make sure new ID cards being
developed by the Bush administration will better secure borders against
terrorists without slowing legitimate travelers from Canada and Mexico.
The new ID’s will be required for Americans and all others entering the

The delay would only apply to travelers entering the U.S.
over land borders from Canada and Mexico. It would not affect travel
rules for people coming into the country by airplane or cruise ship,
who will have to show their passports to Customs officials as of
January 8, 2007, to gain entry.

The border crackdown was wrapped
up in an overall $34.8 billion spending plan for the Homeland Security
Department. The House and Senate each aim to approve it later this
week, before lawmakers recess for the elections.

The spending
bill reflects “a dramatic step forward toward making sure that our
borders are secure,” Sen. Judd Gregg, R-New Hampshire, who helped
negotiate the measure, said Tuesday.

Gregg added: “We still have a long way to go. Nobody is going to argue about that.”

The massive spending bill also includes plans to:

  • Spend
    $1.2 billion on border fencing, vehicle barriers and technology to
    prevent illegal immigrants and criminals from sneaking into the country.
  • Overhaul
    the Federal Emergency Management Agency to give its director a direct
    line to the president during catastrophes and remerge disaster
    preparedness planning with response missions.
  • Give the Homeland Security Department authority to shut down chemical plants that fail to meet security standards.
  • Buy nuclear detectors to scan shipping cargo and hire more Coast Guard inspectors and Customs agents at seaports.
  • Allow
    Americans to legally import a 90-day supply of prescription medications
    from Canada by carrying them back across the border, while retaining
    bans on importing drugs by mail or the Internet.
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