President Bush said yesterday that he was surprised by the announcement this month by the Department of Homeland Security that it would require passports for tourists crossing the border from Canada and Mexico, and pledged to work around it.
“When I first read that in the newspaper, about the need to have passports, I said, ‘What’s going on here?’ “ Mr. Bush told the convention of the American Society of Newspaper Editors. “I thought there was a better way to expedite legal flow of traffic and people.
“Evidently this has been mandated in law,” Mr. Bush said. “So I’ve talked to [Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice] and Homeland Security people about seeing if there’s some flexibility in the law.”
Requiring passports “is going to disrupt honest flow of traffic,” Mr. Bush said, adding that he has the executive branch “checking out right now” how the law could be interpreted more loosely.
The Department of Homeland Security has proposed requiring passports or other approved secure documents from anyone—including Americans—entering the United States from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, the Caribbean and Panama. About 20 percent of Americans own passports.