Gregoireprogram could expedite border waits

Published on Thu, Nov 16, 2006 by at Grubb

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Gregoire program could expedite border waits

By Pat Grubb

Washington governor Christine Gregoire is seeking approval from the federal government for a new border technology project she is championing.


The project would utilize handheld scanners that would read bar codes on the back of Washington and B.C. driver licenses. The bar codes and readers would be able to determine the nationality of the holder and authenticity of the license.


Gregoire’s program is in response to the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, which will require travelers to carry passports in order to cross the border. The requirement is scheduled to come into effect June 1, 2009. Gregoire said, “We want to find a way to boost security at our border without hampering trade and tourism. This is particularly important with both the 2009 World Police and Fire Fighter Games and the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics fast approaching.”
The pilot project would last three months and would utilize a wireless hand-held scanner that is connected to law enforcement ?databases. License holders would be required to upgrade their current licenses to the new version. Gregoire did not explain how the program would benefit passengers who did not possess licenses, such as children.

Governor Gregoire has also asked the Department of Homeland Security for cooperation on a study of the possibility of using enhanced Washington driver licenses and identification cards as an alternative to passports at the border between Washington and British Columbia.