Fortress America is not possible or desirable. Friction at the border with high “false positives” produces transaction costs that exceed the security benefit. Proper security will improve visibility so that we can reliably differentiate the right people who want to invent the next great thing from the wrong people who want to commit the next worst thing. This will enable legal commerce while stopping dangerous contraband. Joint initiatives with our leading trading partners, particularly Canada and Mexico, should not only improve border security but also close the economic gap between the United States and its immediate neighbors.
Given expanded Al Qaeda efforts to recruit Europeans who do not fit the prevailing terrorist profile, reliable advance travel information and secure credentials are increasingly important. But the driver’s license should not be used as a de facto national identification and citizenship card. Verification of “feeder” documents that establish identity, one of the purposes of the REAL ID Act, is legitimate, but the passport is the credential best-suited to convey citizenship. The United States is insisting that the rest of the world use biometric passports. Americans should as well, as long as the biometrics are stored in a secure manner that prevents duplication.
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