Will Texans need a passport to travel to the United States after TEXIT?

Negotiating travel between the United States and an independent Texas should be relatively easy since there is already an example of how the United States handles regular travel between itself and a contiguous foreign country. All we have to do is look south toward Mexico.

Starting in 2014, the number of people legally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border topped one million daily. Passports aren’t even required, as the U.S. government allows Mexican citizens to use “Border Crossing Cards” to enter the United States from Mexico “by land, or by pleasure vessel or ferry.”

There is a very good reason that motivates the federal government to lower the barriers to travel between contiguous countries and itself. It’s good for the economy.

Noe Garcia, president of the Border Trade Alliance, singled out the economic motivator. “Legal border crossings at the dozens of ports of entries located along the U.S.-Mexican border significantly benefit both the U.S. and Mexican economies, which is why the numbers continue to rise.”

However, anyone concerned about the use of passports to travel from State to State within the United States should hope they don’t live in one of handful of States that haven’t implemented the federal guidelines in 2005’s REAL ID Act. Starting in January of 2018, residents of Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Washington will need a passport to board any flight, domestic or international, according to new TSA guidelines. However, the States not listed have state-issued IDs that are compliant with the TSA guidelines. In addition, government-issued Border Crossing Cards and Global Entry Cards can be used.

This is all to point out that travel agreements between self-governing independent nations are common, as is the desire of nations to ease travel restrictions between those countries while maintaining high standards for security.

A great example of this is the federal Visa Waiver program that allows the citizens of certain countries to travel to and through the United States for up to 90 days for tourism or business without having to obtain a visa. That program includes Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Chile, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan and the United Kingdom, with nine other countries in the process of being certified.

It is reasonable to assume that Texas would readily qualify for all existing programs instituted by the federal government that lower the barriers to travel and speed the process for those who travel. This would have to be discussed, and final agreements would be part of the negotiations.

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