News: Deportation threat lifted

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The Independent Travel

United States border officials will not deport visitors who arrive in breach of the latest tightening of immigration rules.

From 26 October, all travellers hoping to enter the US under the Visa Waiver Program are required to have a machine-readable passport - one where the photograph page contains two lines of text consisting of personal data and chevrons. Most of these in current use were issued by UK missions abroad. Holders of such passports are technically obliged to obtain a visa before visiting America.

Over the past three years, many travellers who arrived in America in breach of the Visa Waiver rules were sent home on the next available plane. But Asa Hutchinson, under-secretary for Border and Transportation Security, pledged this week: "No-one will be turned away because they do not have a machine-readable passport."

But leniency will apply once only: the traveller will be warned that the problem needs to be addressed before their next visit. It is also possible that a fine could be imposed. "We're still working out the details as to how we would handle it - whether it would be simply a warning or whether there would be a small fee attached to it for the additional processing," said Mr Hutchinson.

This week the US began fingerprinting and photographing all arrivals, including those people travelling under the Visa Waiver scheme.

* The new $650m (£360m) Las Vegas Monorail has been suspended indefinitely because of safety fears. The four-mile system, designed to ease severe traffic congestion, opened in July. But last month train parts fell from the elevated system on two occasions.

The computer-operated driverless trains are intended to run parallel to Las Vegas Boulevard: north from the MGM Grand, near the airport, to the Sahara Hotel. The line takes in eight resort hotels and nine convention centres during the 14-minute ride. The flat fare of $3 makes it America's most expensive piece of urban public transport.

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