RealNews

Boaters May Have to Check in With Feds

Government authorities have begun enforcing an old law that requires U.S. pleasure boaters returning from foreign shores to check in with immigration authorities — even if they’ve just been island hopping in the Bahamas. For years, boaters returning from a quick visit to another country could simply telephone Customs officials and be on their way. But since last year, officials have been enforcing a law that requires boaters to appear at a local immigration office within 24 hours of returning from a trip to a foreign county. Otherwise, they face a $3,000 fine. Federal officials say national security concerns leave them little choice. “Although it has always been the law, ports were using discretion,” said Barbara Gonzalez, spokeswoman for the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection. “After Sept. 11 that changed. Everyone must report in person.” Quick boating trips are common in Florida, with the Bahamian island of Bimini only 55 miles away. Some boaters say the self-reporting policy only inconveniences law-abiding citizens and questioned its effectiveness. Full Story

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