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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Passport deadline looms for Spring Break

Gordon Bates/ Arizona Daily Wildcat
John Maciejewski, a UA linguistics and anthropology double major, and Alicia Waltz, a UA anthropology graduate, are finalizing her passport application process early last Friday afternoon at the UA Passport Application Acceptance Facility.
Gordon Bates
Gordon Bates/ Arizona Daily Wildcat John Maciejewski, a UA linguistics and anthropology double major, and Alicia Waltz, a UA anthropology graduate, are finalizing her passport application process early last Friday afternoon at the UA Passport Application Acceptance Facility.

Students have five days to apply for a passport if they plan on heading outside the United States for spring break.

“”(It must be) no later than Jan. 25 if they want to apply for a passport and request for routine processing,”” said John Maciejewski, a passport agent at the UA Passport Application Acceptance Facility. “”If they’re not going to get it done by Jan. 25, then they should apply no later than Feb. 12. If they do that then they will have to pay for expedite processing.””

The requirement is part of the second phase of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, which took effect June 1, 2009 and required all U.S. citizens to present a valid passport when entering the United States by land.

On Dec. 17, 2004, President George W. Bush signed the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act. The law was designed to improve security within the United States and tighten border protection.

Part of this tighter border security is the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, which was set to begin in two phases. Phase one went into effect on Jan. 27, 2007, and required all travelers entering the United States by air to have a valid passport.

During the first phase, Maciejewski said the Passport Facility, located at 1128 E. Mabel St., saw an influx of applicants, but when the second phase was implemented the amount of applicants leveled off.

“”After the second phase took effect there was a small peak but generally it’s been slow, and we attribute it to the economy,”” he said.

Maciejewski said that by law a U.S. citizen cannot be denied entry into the country but warned that they will be at the mercy of the U.S. Border and Customs Protection.

“”The bottom line is you can’t deny entry to a U.S. citizen,”” said Bonnie Arellano, public affairs officer for the U.S. Border and Customs Protection. “”If a U.S. citizen comes to a port of entry from Mexico or Canada and he or she doesn’t have a document, they will obviously go though the process of trying to discover and prove that they are a U.S. citizen. But once that is determined they should be released and sent into the country.””

While not going into details of how to prove U.S. citizenship, Arellano said they have a vast multitudes of ways to do so, and it’s not as simple as showing a driver’s license.

“”We can’t deny admission to a U.S. citizen, and once that determination is made, and if that person doesn’t have any warrants, and there is nothing for us to hold them, then they would be granted admission into the U.S.,”” she said.

Kathy Welch who works in the University Information Technology Center and was renewing her passport, said she was impressed by how quick and easy the service was at the Passport Application Acceptance Facility.

“”I just walked over here while I was on my lunch hour,”” said Welch, who plans on taking a cruise though the Panama Canal in April. “”I didn’t have to wait in all kinds of lines, it was just fast and convenient.””

Since its opening in April 2001, the facility has made it quick and easy to obtain a passport for anyone including students, staff and the general public.

“”My friend told me about it and I looked it up online,”” said Mark Bartley, a Tucson resident who is planning a trip to the British Virgin Islands. “”He said come here, they do photos, you’re in and out, and it takes four to six weeks before you get it.””

Bartley remembers when he got a passport 10 years ago and how it took almost a year before he got it. 

“”Most postal faculties require an appointment, (whereas) we don’t; we’re open on a walk-in basis only,”” Maciejewski said. “”Despite our best efforts to advertise our service here, I think a lot of people still don’t know about it. So service is still pretty quick when someone comes in.””

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