How WHTI Affects You

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FUNDAMENTAL
RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT

The right
to travel is a long-standing tradition in Anglo-Saxon law. At
Runnymeade on 15 June 1215 King John agreed to the “Articles
of the Barons” and a formal document to record the agreement
was created by the royal chancery on 15 July: this was the original
Magna
Carta
.

The Magna
Carta is the foundation for many modern day constitutions and
enumerates many of the protections found therein including the
Great
Writ of Habeas Corpus
. The right to travel was so important
it was distinctly set apart in clause 42:

It shall
be lawful to any person, for the future, to go out of our kingdom,
and to return, safely and securely, by land or by water, saving
his allegiance to us, unless it be in time of war, for some
short space, for the common good of the kingdom: excepting prisoners
and outlaws, according to the laws of the land, and of the people
of the nation at war against us, and Merchants who shall be
treated as it is said above.

The United
States Supreme Court
has long held that freedom of movement
within the States is a fundamental right while travel outside
the country does not contain the same protections.

WESTERN
HEMISPHERE TRAVEL INITIATIVE

The Western
Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) is a particularly annoying
program. Remember being able to travel via air into the United
States and not need a passport?

In January
2007 the air portion of the initiative went into effect requiring
all international travelers to use passports to enter the United
States. The land and sea portion went into effect 1 June 2009.

Prior to
WHTI American travelers to Mexico, Canada and several Caribbean
countries could return to the United States with only a driver’s
license and birth certificate. The land and sea requirements of
WHTI will differ from the air. Valid documents will include passports,
United States passport cards, an enhanced driver’s license or
"trusted" traveler identification cards such as Sentri
or Nexus.

UNITED
STATES PASSPORT CARDS

Production
of United
States passport cards
began on 14 July 2008, over 1,000,000
have been issued, applications are usually processed in 4–6
weeks, cost between $20–$45 and the passport cards are valid
for 10 years.

If you are
a United States citizen with the requisite legal documents then
we recommend you apply for and obtain a United States passport
card. We also recommend you use this as your primary identity
document for activities such as opening a bank account, purchasing
prescription drugs when you have a valid prescription, etc.

Merchants
sometimes ask for ID
when using a credit card
although this usually is in breach
of the merchant rules with either Visa or Mastercard. Generally,
you are not required to provide it and they must still complete
the purchase.

A few reasons
to use the passport card as your primary identity document is
because it (1) does not contain much personal information, (2)
does not contain an address and (3) is quickly and easily recognized.

PASSPORT
CARD APPLICATION

The United
States Department of State has hired many new examiners because
of the flood of passport card applications. These examiners are
evaluated based on the amount of applications they process instead
of the fraudulent applications they identify. Consequently, examiners
issue many genuine passports that probably should not have been
issued. It is important to be aware of fraudulent
identity documents
and how to protect yourself from the criminals
that deal in that sphere.

CONCLUSION

The WHTI
will impose additional restrictions on the fundamental right to
travel and decrease your ability to travel anonymously. The new
United States passport card may be more convenient and can help
protect your privacy. You can learn how to better implement a
complete strategy for protecting your privacy by getting the book
How To Vanish.

Reprinted
with permission from How to
Vanish.

January
8, 2011

Bill
Rounds, J.D. is a California attorney. He holds a degree in Accounting
from the University of Utah and a law degree from California
Western School of Law
. He practices civil litigation, domestic
and foreign business entity formation and transactions, criminal
defense and privacy law. He is a strong advocate of personal and
financial freedom and civil liberties.

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