The Department of Homeland Security issued a press release today reminding U.S. citizens crossing the border by land back into the U.S. that crossing rules are changing under WHTI as of January 31, 2008. Border crossing guards will no longer rely on oral representation of citizenship and will instead require both a government issued photo I.D. (such as a drivers license) and proof of citizenship (such as a birth certificate). If you already have a passport, it will obviously meet both of these requirements.
So for those of you planning trips to Puerto Peñasco (Rocky Point) after January 31, 2008 who do not yet have a passport, you will no longer be able to cross back into the U.S. with only a drivers license. There is an exception for U.S. citizens 18 and younger – only proof of U.S. citizenship (a birth certificate) is required. So start digging out those birth certificates or contact your state of birth’s vital statistics office (click here) to get a certified copy. Even better, get a passport (click here) and you can quit reading all these updates.
DHS and DOS have not yet determined when implementation of the passport requirements for land crossings will occur. The DHS Appropriations Bill for 2008 that is currently in conference (click here for full text; see Section 530) contains a provision sponsored by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) that mandates a delay in implementation of passport requirements (or alternative identification measures) for land crossings until at least June 1, 2009. While this provision is not supported by the current administration, my sources who work on Capitol Hill indicate that it will most likely pass as part of the DHS appropriations bill due to bipartisan support in Congress. If that happens, the passport requirement that everyone has been talking about will not take effect until at least June 2009. I will work to keep everyone updated on the bill’s progress.
Full press release from DHS can be found here.