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The U.S. Department of Homeland Security will accept new enhanced driver's licenses from New York state.
Gov. David A. Paterson announced the agreement Tuesday, saying the state's Department of Motor Vehicles is developing the license, which New Yorkers will be able to present instead of passports at U.S. border crossings. The license should be available by the end of the summer, according to a statement from Paterson's office.
New York is expected to become the second state to offer enhanced licenses. Participation is voluntary for U.S. citizens who live in New York. The DMV will require in-person visits, identity and citizenship documents, and verification before issuing the licenses.
The license will comply with the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative and will contain special security features. It will look similar to regular New York licenses but will have features to show it's enhanced.
New York state leaders want to issue enhanced licenses to help ease transit between the United States and neighboring countries. New York borders Quebec and Ontario. Parts of the upstate economy depend on smooth cross-border travel.
"The development of this license will help to ease long lines at our New York-Canada border crossings, allowing commerce to flow more freely and securely in and out of the state," Paterson said. "It represents a major step forward that will help the upstate economy and offer a convenience for all New Yorkers who travel in North America."
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said the enhanced licenses will improve security without burdening cross-border commerce.
DMV Commissioner David J. Swarts said the license will help to ensure that the "upstate economy does not suffer from the new federal mandate for border crossing."