Now you need a passport to get back into the USA after visiting Mexico

  Heil Hitler! The police state is finalized. Well not quite. Next you will need an internal passport leave your home, rent a hotel room or cross state lines! The internal passport has a common name. It's called a drivers license.


Passport law to keep revelers in U.S.
Stephanie Paterik
The Arizona Republic
Feb. 23, 2007 12:00 AM

New passport rules are a buzzkill for spring breakers trying to book cheap, last-minute vacations.

Student-travel professionals say young globetrotters are meeting the strict regulations for the first time. Unlike in past spring breaks, students now need passports to fly to Mexico, the Caribbean and Canada.

The change seems to be dampening the popularity of perennial party spots like Cancun and Acapulco, according to preliminary numbers from STA Travel, an international agency that caters to travelers 25 and younger. The company's North American headquarters are in Texas and the call center is in Tempe.

"Some students aren't aware," spokeswoman Christi Day said. "Some live in their little university bubble."

The company's bookings to Mexico are slightly down, but domestic ski vacations to Colorado and Vermont are way up. Day said it is too early to tell what is driving the trend, but passports are likely a factor.

"That would probably be our foremost reason why students might not be booking certain trips," she said, "simply because they didn't get their passports fast enough and didn't want to pay an extra fee."

Passports take up to eight weeks to process. The government will deliver them in two weeks for a fee, and private couriers can secure them in two days for even more dough. The price can add up to hundreds of dollars.

Some students are willing to pay for their dream spring break. At Arizona State University, they are packing a tiny passport office on campus, paying extra fees to get their booklets before school lets out on March 9.

Kim Foster works at the office and is twice as busy as she was last year. She said most students are flying to Mexico, and some are trekking to Europe.

"I've never seen anything like it," she said of the foot traffic. "A lot of them come in kind of aware, but they are a little confused."

The office hands out fliers to inform students they need a passport to fly to Mexico, not to drive. That's one area of confusion.

ASU student Gabriella Rosales, 21, of Phoenix, said her friends are leaning against a trip to Rocky Point because the passport rules are confusing. Rosales travels often and has a passport, but her friends do not.

"My friends don't travel outside the country and wouldn't want to waste money on a passport for one trip," she said. "It has everyone confused."

Justin Strand of Mesa, a 28-year-old student, is renewing his passport for a summer trip to Mexico. In the meantime, he will backpack to Havasu Falls in the Grand Canyon during his week off.

"I do a lot of backpacking," he said. "A couple people are going to Colorado to ski."

Increasingly, students are drawn to non-traditional spring breaks. That can mean anything from skiing in Breckenridge to saving sea turtles in Costa Rica, STA Travel spokeswoman Day said.

But even those destinations are willing to cater to classic partiers. Many ski resorts advertise spring break as "college week" and host parties on the slopes, Day added.

"They really communicate spring-break week," she said.