Global Entry Program

While the TSA and CBP are very skilled at keeping smugglers from entering the U.S. at airports, the Federal government should allocate the funding and the personnel needed to expand the Global Entry program for those of  us who are not criminals.

Since the Republican primaries in 2016, Donald Trump has made it quite clear that border security is one of his top priorities.  We’ve heard numerous proposals about how to keep narcotics smugglers, terrorists, arms smugglers and human traffickers out of the U.S.  And while no one doubts that in the 21st century, border security is as important than it has ever been, we’ve been hearing almost nothing about how our Federal government can make it easier for people who are NOT criminals to travel into and out of the country.

Beginning in the 1990’s, the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service, which was the predecessor agency to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) began operating the INS Passenger Accelerated Service System, (which was also commonly referred to as the INSPASS program) at 7 of the busiest airports in the U.S. and Canada.  In 2002, the INSPASS program was replaced by a similar program called Global Entry, which is a similar program which operates on more advanced software.

How Does The Global Entry Program Work, And What Would The Advantages Of Expanding It Be?

Briefly: Any U.S. citizen who intends to travel abroad as well as citizens from a number of other countries who are intending to travel to the U.S. may apply to the Global Entry program.  If the applicant has no criminal record and you pass a background check, you’re approved for global entry.  You pay a $100 fee, the CBP issues a Global Entry card to you, the card will remain valid for 5 years, provided that you do not violate the terms of the program or commit any serious crimes during the course of those 5 years.  Because the administrators at the TSA have recognized that the people who pass the background check and enroll in Global Entry do not pose a security risk, participants in this program can bypass the security lines when re-entering into the U.S. from overseas.  People who participate in this program enter their information into automated kiosks at the airport terminals, the kiosks are equipped with scanners which scan peoples’ fingerprints, and once travelers’ fingerprints have been verified, people are then permitted to proceed directly to the baggage claim carousels.

Once you’ve enrolled in the Global Entry program, you only need to wait on the customs lines at airports if you’re importing valuable items from other countries for personal or commercial use.

After 5 years, passengers have the option to renew their membership in this program, the renewing process is very simple.  This program has been very successful since it began operating in 2002, as of August 2017, there are now approximately 1.8 million people who are currently participating in this program.

Comparable programs in other countries have also been very successful in recent years, including Australia and New Zealand’s SmartGate system, Japan’s Automated Gate program, Hong Kong’s e-channel program, Canada’s CANPASS program, Korea’s Smart Entry Service and the U.K.’s Registered Traveler program.

As of August 2017, the Global Entry program is presently operating at 42 of the largest airports in the U.S. as well as at the terminals where U.S. bound flights depart from at a handful of airports in other countries.

However, there are quite a few airports in the U.S. in which commercial passenger flights which routinely depart for airports in other countries, and which international flights land in daily which still do not have this program operating at them.  The program does seem to be expanding, but the TSA and CBP seems to be adding kiosks to only a small handful of airports each year.  There is no information on the program’s website which states whether CBP ever intends to expand this program to all of the airports in the U.S. at which international commercial passenger flights routinely arrive into and depart from.  If the TSA and CBP do finally opt to expand this program to all of the airports in the U.S. which receive passengers traveling from other countries, this will make traveling faster and easier for those of us who are not criminals, and it will free up agents to perform the other tasks that CBP is responsible for, including searching vehicles, passengers, suitcases and cargo entering

There is no information on the program’s website which states whether CBP ever intends to expand this program to all of the airports in the U.S. at which international commercial passenger flights routinely arrive into and depart from.  If the TSA and CBP do finally opt to expand this program to all of the airports in the U.S. which receive passengers traveling from other countries, this will make traveling faster and easier for those of us who are not criminals, and it will free up agents to perform the other tasks that CBP is responsible for, including searching vehicles, passengers, suitcases and cargo entering into the U.S. from the rest of the world.

Read more: AG Jeff Sessions: DACA Is Being Rescinded

Scott Benowitz

Scott Benowitz is a staff writer for Afterimage Review. He holds an MSc in Comparative Politics from The London School of Economics & Political Science and a B.A. in International Studies from Reed...