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The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 is the legislative equivalent to tearing down the Peace Bridge.

Occasionally, Congress enacts a bill with good intentions but casts its net too far. If this provision comes into force on schedule in September of 1998, Canadians will be required to complete documentation before they enter the United States. In protest, the Canadian government may place the same requirement upon U.S. visitors.

Western New Yorkers with summer residences in Canada will find themselves in line-ups that stretch for miles and last six hours or more. The Fort Erie racetrack will also be inaccessible. These are minor problems compared to the truck traffic and business travelers who will be lost in the clog of visitors to Toronto or Niagara Falls.

Rep. John LaFalce has taken up this issue with lawmakers and been met with a mixture of ignorance about the Canadian border and concern that treating Canadians differently from Mexicans will be viewed badly.

But a law passed to protect America from the ill effects of illegal immigration will hurt the flow of citizens between the two largest and most successful trading partners in the world. Western New Yorkers must insist upon an exemption for Canadians. Otherwise, don't bother twinning the Peace Bridge -- just tear it down. No one is going to be able to use it, except for parking.

Paul Wintemute Niagara Falls, Ontario

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