At Home: Higher US passport fees could affect Canadian tourism
The success of the recent Winter Olympics in Vancouver brought Canada to the world’s attention. But a hefty hike in US passport fees could put a damper on American visitors getting to know us better.
As the Toronto Star recently reported, the US State Department has plans ?to raise passport fees by as much as 35 per cent.? Such an increase would put the cost of an adult passport at $135. Passports are now mandatory to cross the US-Canada border. For a family of four, that trip would cost $480 in passport fees alone. The planned increase will take effect in mid-March.
Canadian tourism officials are shocked at the proposed increase, especially as it comes at a time when the strong Canadian dollar is already affecting the industry.
Wayne Thomson, the Niagara Falls Tourism chair, told reporters the increase was also bad news for ?people in the U.S. who may not be able to afford a passport and It’s certainly not good news for tourism destinations.? The rate increase could affect business travel as well, but the State Department stands by the decision, noting that ?high-tech features are making passports more expensive to produce.?
In Foreign News: Home-schoolers granted asylum in US
Of all the reasons for seeking asylum in the United States, home-schooling may not be the first one that comes to mind. But fear of persecution for the decision to home-school is the reason a German family has been granted US asylum.
As The New York Times reports, Uwe and Hannelore Romeike wanted to home-school their five children in their native country, Germany. But home-schooling is illegal there, and Germany is one of the few European countries that both requires and enforces children’s attendance ?at an officially recognized school.?
The Romeikes arrived in the US in 2008. they’re devout Christians who wanted their children educated in an environment free of the ?unruly behavior? they saw as widespread in their local schools. They only learned about home-schooling as an alternative when they began to explore their options?not unusual given the strict penalties imposed. When they decided to home-school their children after months of research on the subject, they ?expected to be punished with moderate fines and otherwise left alone.?
However, they soon faced the possibility of losing custody of their children, fines of more than $11,000, and even a police visit during which the children were forced to go to school. Even before the Romeikes’s case, lawyers at one advocacy group, the Virginia-based Home School Legal Defense Association, had attempted to litigate on behalf of home-schoolers in Germany, with little success. The US judge who granted the Romeikes asylum noted that the measures taken against them amounted to persecution, and that the German policy is ?utterly repellent to everything we believe as Americans.?