Are we serious or are we playing games with our supposed protection of our border with Canada?
In the eight years since the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, we have made much chin music about the need to secure our borders, only to temper it with conveniences.
Now it's the Northern Hemisphere Travel Initiative, which means passports or passport cards for travel between the U.S. and Canada, and the U.S. and Mexico.
Throw in the latest wrinkle -- charter fishermen who take their clients onto the Canadian side of Lake Erie, and the passport and fishing license complications that are apparently a surprise to all concerned -- and you wonder why it's taken eight years simply to realize how little we've thought this through.
It's wonderfully insane: You don't need a passport if you don't get off the boat in Canadian territory, but you need to get off the boat in Canadian territory if you don't already have your Canada-issued fishing license. Meanwhile, Customs and Border Protection says you need your passport (or passport card) to get back home from Canada, but you won't be stopped from getting back in, just delayed while your information is verified.
On the face of it, the solution seems simple: Think ahead. Get your passport. Call Canada to get your fishing license ahead of time. It's your own problem if you don't.
But the travel-papers requirements for the Americas have been evolving, devolving and revolving for eight years, as passports were considered for U.S.-Canada (and U.S.-Mexico) travel, then rejected or tempered as people realized the tourist, travel and commercial money that flowed in each direction over the borders.
Actually, the quotes from the border agents in our recent fishing story indicates the travel documentation requirements might -- might -- be settling down into something that makes sense and is easy to understand and deal with. But, assuming the concerns didn't start until 9-11, why has it taken eight years to get even to this point?