BLAINE, Wash. (AP)
New rules requiring passports or new high-tech documents to cross the United States' northern and southern borders take effect today. The rules are being implemented nearly eight years after the Sept. 11 attacks and long after the 9/11 Commission recommended the changes. They were delayed by complaints from state officials who worried the restrictions would hinder the flow of people and commerce and affect border towns dependent on international crossings. In 2001 a driver's license and an oral declaration of citizenship were enough to cross the Canadian and Mexican borders. Today's changes are the last step in a gradual ratcheting up of the rules. Now thousands of Americans are preparing by applying for passports or obtaining special driver's licenses that can also be used to cross the border. In one Texas border community, long lines were reported at a local courthouse as people rushed to apply for the required documents. But it remains to be seen if the new requirement will cause traffic backups at points of entry and headaches for people unaware of the looming change.