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INS Plan Seeks More Data From Travelers

January 04, 2003|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The government wants detailed information about every person who enters or leaves the country by commercial plane or boat, and for the first time will require U.S. citizens to fill out forms detailing their comings and goings.

Under rules proposed Friday, the information would be sent electronically to the government for matching against security databases.

"It's another way to enhance security for travelers," Immigration and Naturalization Service spokeswoman Kimberly Weismann said.

The public will have a month to comment on the plan, and the final regulations will take effect later this year.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which has criticized many of the administration's anti-terrorism information-gathering efforts, said these rules should not impinge on people's privacy.

"We don't see a huge downside," spokeswoman Emily Whitfield said.

Congress mandated the changes in legislation that was signed into law by President Bush last May.

The proposal requires all passengers arriving or departing, as well as crew members, to provide this information: name, date of birth, citizenship, sex, passport number and country of issuance, country of residence, U.S. visa number and other details of its issuance, address while in the United States, and, where it applies, alien registration number.

Not all information is required in every case. For example, a Canadian traveler would not need to provide passport information because one isn't required for a visit to the United States.

All commercial airlines, cargo flights, cruise ships and other vessels carrying crew or passengers will be affected, with the exception of most ferry boats. Private transportation is not affected, nor are commercial buses or trains.

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