SOURCE: Detroit Regional Chamber

February 22, 2007 14:39 ET

Announcement to Ease New International Travel Rules for Minors a Step in Right Direction

DETROIT, MI -- (MARKET WIRE) -- February 22, 2007 -- The Detroit Regional Chamber has been working with state and federal officials for the past two years to mitigate the negative effects new land travel requirements will have on businesses and tourism in the Detroit Region. The economic impact of stricter travel requirements is estimated at $100 million in lost revenue to the region each year.

During a speech at the Detroit Economic Club today, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced children under the age of 18 will be exempt from having to show a passport when entering the United States through a land-border crossing. All other individuals will be required to produce a passport or other secure document, which can cost up to $97 per person and take up to 90 days to be issued. The new rules governing land travel are expected to be in place no later than June 2009.

"Secretary Chertoff's policy change is an encouraging sign that the federal government recognizes the new travel regulations will hurt local economies," said Richard E. Blouse Jr., CCE, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber. "We hope to build on this announcement to develop practical rules, such as our plan to use enhanced driver's licenses, to meet the twin goals of keeping our borders open and safe."

The Chamber and Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land are pushing a pilot program that strengthens the procedure for issuing driver's licenses. The new process will allow American and Canadian citizens to prove citizenship with their improved driver's licenses in place of a passport when crossing a land border. The Chamber is working with the Department of Homeland Security and Congress to have Michigan designated as a pilot program for using enhanced driver's licenses in place of requiring costly passports.

About the Detroit Regional Chamber

With nearly 23,000 members, the Detroit Regional Chamber is the largest chamber of commerce in the country. The Chamber's mission is carried out through business attraction efforts, public policy advocacy, strategic partnerships and quality products and services for members.

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