Poe Denounces Plans to Suspend Passport Requirements

Enforce the law government inefficiency jeopardizes national security

WASHINGTON, DC Congressman Ted Poe (TX-02) expressed his concerns over a proposed plan by the Administration to waive important security measures as a result of inefficient government planning. Poe joined fellow Members of Congress urging Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to take swift action in addressing the backlog in Passport offices across the country. Due to changes in Federal law, coupled with the busy summer travel season, the current passport processing wait time is in excess of 12 weeks.

After six months of processing passports under the new law, there is little if any appearance of changes in efficiency and allowing a change in the law to make up for their failure is just not acceptable, said Poe. Instead of hiring more personnel and planning ahead for changes made by Congress over three years ago, the government chooses to disregard the law.

In a letter to Secretary Rice, Members of Congress urge the Secretary to take swift action in addressing the backlog. We believe you will agree that the current situation is unacceptable and respectfully request that you take immediate action to remedy the situation.

My office is inundated with calls about their passport, said Poe. And while my office has managed to wade through the government chaos to get answers, there is no sign of it getting any better in the foreseeable future. This was not a surprise law. The passport bureaucrats had plenty of notice, but did not take the appropriate measures to handle routine procedure of issuing passports. This is the same inefficient agency the Administration wants to legalize 12-20 million illegals with Z-Visas.

The security measures in the 9/11 Commission Report are very clear we need an universal identification document for everyone entering the United States, Poe continues. I have filed legislation in the past requiring everyone entering the country to have a Passport. The Passport is the most efficient identification document we have and is recognized by every government in the world. Unfortunately, bureaucrats have mangled the intent of the WHTI and the efforts of the Administration to wave the security requirements pose a threat to our safety and prove to be just another band-aid on our border security policy.

The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) was passed by Congress in 2004 and signed into law by President Bush on December 17, 2004. This law closes the identification loopholes described in the 9/11 Commission Report and requires all citizens of the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Bermuda to have a passport or other accepted document that establishes the bearers identity and nationality to enter or re-enter the United States from within the Western Hemisphere. This travel initiative is being implemented in two phases: the first phase will be for air travel beginning January 23, 2007, and the second for land/sea travel as early as January 2008.