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AP Interview: Chertoff: New rules will mean longer lines at first; critics must ‘‘grow up’’

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AP Interview: Chertoff: New rules will mean longer lines at first; critics must ‘‘grow up’’

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff gestures during an Associated Press newsmaker interview, Thursday Jan. 17, 2008, in Washington.

    WASHINGTON — Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Thursday that new border crossing rules to take effect this month will mean longer lines for those entering the United States, but he said it was necessary to prevent another Sept. 11-style attack. Critics of the effort need to ‘‘grow up,’’ he told The Associated Press in an interview.
    Starting Feb. 1, a drivers license and oral declaration of citizenship will not be enough to enter the United States. People will have to present proof of citizenship, usually in the form of a passport or a birth certificate.
    Chertoff said that without the rule change, the country risks another Sept. 11-type attack.
    He also predicted longer lines at the border at the beginning of the rule.
    ‘‘I’m quite sure that in the initial period of our new system, until people get the message, there will be some delays,’’ he said. ‘‘I can guarantee if we don’t make this change eventually there will come a time when someone will come across the border exploiting the vulnerabilities in the system and some bad stuff will happen and then there’ll be another 9/11 commission and we’ll have people come saying ’Why didn’t we do this?’’’
    Chertoff bristled at criticism that such extra security may be too inconvenient for those crossing the northern and southern borders.
    ‘‘It’s time to grow up and recognize that if we’re serious about this threat, we’ve got to take reasonable, measured but nevertheless determined steps to getting better security,’’ Chertoff said.
    At the same time, the secretary acknowledged his agency will have to push back a deadline for requiring passports — rather than birth certificates — at the borders. Chertoff has already delayed the rule once, but Congress recently passed legislation delaying the passport requirement until June 2009.

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