Border Crossing

When I was a youngster, my parents, grandparents, and brother would go for Sunday afternoon drives. I was plunked between my father and grandfather in the front seat and Don was plunked between my mother and grandmother in the back.
My grandfather had a big huge Olds 88 that was maroon in colour. Often we would set off across the border for Virginia, Bemidji, Sha-Sha, or points in between.
On crossing the border, my parents and grandparents would flash their border crossing cards to the customs and immigration inspectors on the Falls side of the border. It was an identity card issued by the Canadian government for citizens during the Second World War so they could travel across the border.
As children, Don and I didn’t need the crossing cards (which were scrapped sometime in the 1950s).
In the Saturday, Feb. 28 edition of the Globe and Mail, John Ibbitson discussed the changes Canadians might expect on their passports. He indicated that in the not-so-distant future, Canadians might not be able to get into the United States without a biometric identifier.
It is expected Canada will make these mandatory on Canadian passports.
Already at many border crossing points or entry points into the United States, biometric identification is being used. Foreigners entering the U.S. at major airports are having to submit to fingerprinting.
By the end of this year, foreigners entering the U.S. from the 50 busiest land crossings also will have to submit to fingerprinting. And foreigners who are fingerprinted upon entering now must go through a second fingerprinting so it is known to U.S. authorities that they are leaving the country.
The biometric identifiers can speed up the process.
Locally in Fort Frances, customs and immigration officials have been made aware that this is likely to happen at the International Falls border point.
On Sunday night, “60 Minutes” examined the use of retina scanners at the Frankfurt airport to identify people entering the country. They are matching the retina scans with fingerprinted passports to speed up the process of allowing people to enter Germany.
It is an experimental test.
At this point, Canadians have been exempted from these measures. But we, as Canadians, can expect to come under the same scrutiny that people from other nations are now being put to. We all will have to have new passports with fingerprinting.
At the extreme level, U.S. authorities now are looking to demand that even U.S. citizens returning to the United States may have to pass through the same identifying process.
Although your passport will continue to have the same type of photo that my mother’s “Border Crossing Card” had, your real personal identifier will be your fingerprint and your retina scan.
Eventually, every North American will be forced to be fingerprinted. The question in everyone’s mind is the speed in which it will take place. And every Canadian will carry a much more comprehensive identification piece that probably will include digital data on your fingerprints and retina scan, as well as information about your driver’s licence, health card, and birth certificate.
The days of “Big Brother” watching over you are arriving.
If you don’t ever expect to travel outside of Canada, you may be able to postpone the process, but governments will look at your unique identification marks to issue driver’s licences, health cards, social security cards, and birth certificate.

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