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Senate trashes border bill

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It’s looking like Canadians won’t have to wade through paperwork to cross the border after the U.S. Senate last week voted 99-0 to pass a bill that kills a previous one requiring all aliens to fill out forms at Customs before entering and leaving the country.

But the House of Representatives will have the final say because it has to go back and amend the first bill that originally included Canadians under the new border controls that are to take effect Sept. 30.

And if they can’t come up with a compromise, Canadians still could wind up facing delays at the border.

Rodney Moore, a spokesperson for the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C., said the Senate passed the Commerce, State, and Justice Appropriations Bill, which repeals Section 110 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act.

That new bill exempts all foreigners who are residents of landlocked countries to the United States from the paper trail.

“[But] it’s only one step in the whole Congressional process,” Moore stressed yesterday.

Because the House of Representatives’ bill reads differently, he noted a committee has to be struck to reconcile the differences.

“So the outcome with respect to Section 110 is still uncertain,” Moore warned, adding he wasn’t sure when that committee would be struck.

Moore stressed Canada was still lobbying U.S. officials, pointing out the border law could hurt both tourism and the $1 billion-a-day trade between the two countries.

Both the Senate and House of Representatives are to reconvene around Sept. 9 so that gives the committee about three weeks before the paper shuffle starts.

“I think the key is there could be a slight delay in that date,” Moore noted.

Meanwhile, local MP Bob Nault was optimistic that last Thursday’s vote was an indication of things to come from the House of Representatives.

“It is generally accepted that including Canada in the provisions of Section 110 was an oversight, and American legislators representing border states have fully supported our position,” he noted.

“I think we’re pretty confident that they will,” agreed Moore.

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