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The passport fee has traditionally been based on the cost of providing services and of the book itself. A surcharge to provide dispositionof-remains insurance would depart from this tradition.
Last, some Americans may object to the principle of compulsory insurance of this type and some may object to paying $3 for this service.
The additional costs to the U.S. Government would be small. One additional position would be required in the Department to administer the program, but no additional positions would be required overseas.
VOLUNTARY SURCHARGE ON PASSPORT FEE
This alternative would be identical to the previous alternative except that passport applicants would be given the option of paying the $3 surcharge for coverage or not paying it. The option would be clearly explained to all applicants.
By making the surcharge voluntary, any objections based on the principle of compulsion would be eliminated.
Many passport applicants may not opt for coverage since few people about to travel abroad like to contemplate the possibility of their dying while on their trip.
There would be some administrative problems in operating this alternative. Some system would have to be devised to ascertain rapidly whether or not a deceased American is covered. Possibly a simple notation "Insured" or a symbol to that effect placed in all passports issued after a certain date and whose holders paid the surcharge would be sufficient. The death notification cable would inform the next of kin and the Department whether or not the deceased was insured, upon the consular officer's examination of the passport, and if insured, the Department would authorize the consular to expend the funds required to comply with the next-of-kin's desires for preparation and shipment of the remains.
As in the compulsory passport fee surcharge alternative, this voluntary surcharge alternative would entail only small additional costs. to the U.S. Government, including one additional position in the Department.
Of the various alternative procedures described in this report, those that would provide loans to families of American citizens who die abroad for the disposition of remains have least to recommend them. The time, effort, and administrative costs would not be commensurate with the services rendered, and the lack of availability at all times of
an appropriate person to witness the execution of the required promissory note would militate against meeting the deadlines set by many foreign governments for disposition of remains. A sizable appropriation would be necessary, and the default rate on loans would probably be high.
The guaranteed bank loan alternative does not appear to be viable because of the impossibility of families of the deceased to obtain a loan on weekends or holidays. This lack of availability would be a very serious obstacle to the expeditious action required in processing disposition-of-remains cases. In this alternative, too, the default rate would probably be high with the result that the U.S. Government would have to repay considerable sums to the lending banks.
The private company insurance policy alternative has much to recommend it, but it has one limitation: Only those who purchase a policy would be covered. The voluntary passport fee surcharge suffers from this same deficiency.
The $3 compulsory passport fee surcharge would appear to be the simplest alternative. It is the least expensive, easily administered, meets the time constraints for disposition of remains, places little financial risk on the U.S. Government or American taxpayer, and could provide coverage for almost all Americans traveling or residing abroad.
It would entail, however, precedental legislation to increase the passport fee to cover expenses not related to the issuance of a passport, and would compel citizens to buy what they may not need or desire. Consequently, the Department believes that the Government should do its utmost to encourage the private sector of the economy to provide a viable alternative.
If the insurance industry can provide attractive, inexpensive coverage in conjunction with a vigorous marketing program, there should be no need for U.S. Government financial assistance. We have had several discussions with interested insurance companies in the United States as well as with a group from Lloyds of London. We hope to see some proposals in early 1979.
SYSTEMATIC INFORMATION SHARING
In keeping with this administration's commitment to openness, candor, and cooperation with the Congress, and in response to the finding of Congress expressed in Section 122, Public Law 95-426, the Department of State proposes the systematic sharing of certain information of the Department with the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate. This proposal is consistent with the Department's policy to provide the Congress with the information required to help it fulfill its constitutional role in foreign affairs.
The Department is prepared, on a regular basis, to share with the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate background information on international political and economic issues systematically prepared in the Department. The Office of Congressional Relations will have responsibility for assembling and delivering such information regularly. The Office also has been authorized to work out with the designated representatives of the committees satisfactory controls Over the dissemination of information that is provided.
TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS ON FOREIGN CITIZENS
Historically, foreign travelers have been able to travel in the United States virtually unrestricted. This openness not only derived from an apparent assumption that we have nothing to hide, but from a conviction that to know us is at least the beginning of understanding.
The United States has long encouraged all countries to adopt policies of openness in the belief that doing so would promote international understanding. Efforts in this behalf have taken many forms, for example, exchange programs sponsored by civic and religious organizations and by the U.S. Government, legislation passed by the Congress, and policy statements. In the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, the United States was a strong advocate of the removal of restrictions on the free movement of people and ideas. Since the signing of the CSCE Final Act at Helsinki in 1975, the United States has continued to work for the fulfillment of these and other provisions of this document.
Section 126 of Public Law 95-426 is a welcome new initiative in support of openness and provisions of international agreements calling for the removal of restrictions.
As a first step in implementing section 126, the Department of State has compiled information of existing restrictions on the travel of U.S. citizens by foreign governments. On the basis of this information and in accordance with the provisions of the law, the Department will advise appropriate governments of the general policy expressed in section 126(a) and continue efforts to remove existing restrictions. The Department will report on the progress of these efforts in subsequent annual reports required in this provision.
In compiling this information, the Department concentrated on restrictions of travel within countries of an arbitrary nature. Visas or immigration laws and regulations as such were not considered an unwarranted restriction of travel since they are generally accepted in international and U.S. law and usually control entry into countries. However, in some cases they are applied in such a way as to constitute an arbitrary restriction of internal travel. In such cases, the restrictive action of the application of visa laws is duly noted.
Section 126(a) and section 126 (b) (2) also refer to restrictions imposed by the United States on the private travel of foreign nationals. Aside from the restrictions imposed by the United States on the travel of certain foreign diplomats in accordance with international law discussed below, the only other such restrictions are applied in accordance with the provisions of U.S. visa laws. Restrictions are imposed almost exclusively in conjunction with the issuance of waivers of various grounds of visa ineligibility. These restrictions are not
based on reciprocity or nationality but, as noted, on provisions of U.S. law. In the opinion of the Department, these restrictions are neither arbitrary nor discriminatory. Numerically, they are a minute portion of the visas issued to nonofficial foreign travelers. The overwhelming remainder of visas are issued without restrictions on travel within the United States.
The United States restricts the travel of diplomats and other officials of certain countries assigned to embassies and consulates in the United States and to the United Nations in New York. In this case, the restrictions are imposed for reasons of reciprocity and national security in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961, of which the United States is a party. In this regard, the Department notes that subsection (d) of section 126 does not permit subsection (a) to be construed as limiting restrictions of travel by foreign officials which are imposed on the basis of reciprocity.
The United States has offered to remove restrictions on the travel of foreign officials if their governments would reciprocate by removing testrictions on the travel of U.S. officials in their countries. In one notable case, the Soviet Union, the United States has never received a positive response to these approaches, although some progress toward the liberalization of restrictions has been made in the ebb and flow of the changes of Soviet policy. When the Soviet Government liberalized their restrictions somewhat in 1974, the United States reciprocated. However, at that time, the United States closed the entire area of several States in the continental United States in response to the informal closing of a number of border areas in the Soviet Union. In 1976, in an initiative connected with the Helsinki Final Act, the United States reopened these areas to travel by Soviet diplomats. The Soviet Government did not respond and the border areas remained closed to travel by U.S. diplomats. In January 1978, the Soviet Government issued an ostensibly liberalized set of travel regulations, although most attempts by members of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow to travel in the areas newly opened by these regulations have so far been refused. At the same time, the border areas were formally closed to travel by U.S. diplomats.
In contrast to the almost unexceptional absence of restrictions on nonofficial foreign travel in the United States, a number of other governments impose restrictions on the nonofficial travel of U.S. citizens, and often of other foreigners as well. Based on the information available to the Department, following is a country-by-country description of those restrictions:
Afghanistan. Tourists are welcome in Afghanistan but may not be permitted to travel to certain areas due to security conditions. Tourists are required to make in-country travel arrangements through Afghan Tours, the Government-owned travel agency. Precise travel regulations and procedures, however, have not been issued. Foreign officials must give a 2-day notice for travel beyond 50 kilometers of Kabul or for overnight stays.
Albania.-Seldom are U.S. citizens permitted to visit Albania. When they are, travel is severely limited. The United States does not have diplomatic relations with Albania.
Algeria.-Relations are imposed on the travel of all foreign officials within the country.