Homeland Security's Misguided Border Decision

WASHINGTON, January 24 - Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) made the following statement regarding the recent border policy decision by the Department of Homeland Security:

"The recent announcement by the Department of Homeland Security that they will be ending so-called oral declarations at the border is exactly the wrong decision at the wrong time.

"As everyone here knows very well, all of us in Vermont support having a secure and safe border. There is no question about that.

"However, the Department of Homeland Security's heavy-handed decisions fly in the face of logic and the work of Congress. This decision is going to harm the strong friendship and trade relationship between Vermont and Canada.

"Let's remember, in 2006, Canadians made more than 644,000 visits to Vermont, spending $89 million. In the same year, Vermont residents made 176,000 visits to Canada, spending $56 million. In other words, this relationship and a smooth operation on the border are very important to our state.

"With little notification to Vermonters and those visiting Vermont and other northern states, this decision is going to cause more confusion than it will help secure our borders.

"I am pleased to say that our entire delegation is working closely on this issue in general, and just this morning I joined Senator Leahy's request to Homeland Security to continue accepting oral declarations and government-issued photo ID cards as proof of citizenship for Western hemisphere citizens until full WHTI implementation in 2009.

"At a hearing I held this summer, we heard directly from citizens experiencing unacceptably long lines and delays at the border. What is going to happen when we add these new burdens on Vermonters, Vermont businesses, and our visitors?

"Why, when Congress has given Homeland Security more time to implement the technological and logistical hurdles of this plan are they pressing forward?

"We here in Vermont want a plan that works for our citizens, our visitors, and the Vermont economy. The Department of Homeland Security does not seem to share those priorities. They need to sit down and work with the stakeholders to develop a plan and a timeline that works and is realistic."