A new federal ID card that may be used like a passport will be available by the end of the year, the Arizona Republic reports. The card will make it easier to follow a new law requiring U.S. citizens to prove their nationality at Mexican and Canadian border crossings. The card, the size of a driver’s license, should cost about half that of a passport. Businesses and border community residents had sought an alternative to passports to meet the ID requirement; by Jan. 1, 2008, U.S. citizens must have either a passport or the new ID card to return home from Mexico or Canada.
“We’re talking about, essentially, like the kind of driver’s license or other simple card identification that almost all of us carry in our wallets day in and day out,” said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who announced the card yesterday. Cost of the new card would be about $50. Once federal standards are developed, border states may be able to incorporate the card’s features into driver’s licenses, eliminating the need for residents to carry both. Any U.S. citizen could get the card, but would be acceptable only for crossing land borders. Passports still will be required to enter the country by plane or boat.