January 13, 2005

Traveler Program Through New York’s JFK Airport

Secretary Tom Ridge Announces Enhancement of Expedited Traveler Program Through New York’s JFK Airport

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010
January 13, 2005

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge announced today that the United States would begin deploying enhanced technology to expedite security checks and immigration processing of pre-screened, international travelers through John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City. Further, Secretary Ridge and Dutch Minister of Immigration and Integration Rita Verdonk announced that their agencies will work together to develop an international registered traveler program.

“These efforts demonstrate again that we can design border security initiatives to both enhance homeland security and facilitate global commerce and travel,” Secretary Ridge said at an appearance at Schiphol Airport today with U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands Clifford Sobel, “In particular, a U.S. - Dutch pilot will bring the extensive experience the Dutch government has had with expedited travel security initiatives together with U.S. efforts, paving the way toward a truly international registered traveler program that enhances security for all travelers.”

Secretary Ridge also pointed out that “the success of the US-VISIT program, particularly in deploying biometrics technologies and processes has given us the confidence to move forward with voluntary expedited travel programs using biometrics.”

The improvements at JFK will be deployed in the coming weeks, while U.S. and Dutch officials commence discussions to design and implement an international pilot.

Secretary Ridge noted that Schiphol's years of experience with biometric-based facilitation programs made the Netherlands an obvious choice with which to begin this cooperative effort. But he stressed that the United States government will also work with other allies in the future.

“Our approach at this point is to think big but begin implementing on a small scale,” Secretary Ridge said. “We want to get it right.”

U. S. citizens, U.S. legal permanent residents and foreign visitors who travel frequently to the United States will be eligible for the program, contingent upon admissibility to the United States and the completion of a background check.

Participants will use dedicated kiosks when they arrive at JFK Airport. They will enter the United States without routine Customs and Border Protection (CBP) questioning, unless chosen for a selective or random secondary referral. They must present their machine-readable passport, submit their fingerprints for biometric verification, be photographed, and make a declaration at the kiosk. Once cleared at the kiosk, pilot participants will be allowed to claim their bags and exit the airport.

This program will employ strong mechanisms and practices that will protect the personal privacy of participating travelers. These practices will be designed and continuously monitored by DHS’s Chief Privacy Officer.

Travelers who voluntarily enroll in the program must go through a pre-screening clearance, which may include checks of various biometric and biographic watch lists, including a 10-fingerprint criminal history check, a face-to-face interview with a DHS officer, and a review of any other pertinent information.

Travelers may not qualify if they: are inadmissible to the United States under applicable immigration laws; provide false or incomplete information on their application; have been convicted of a criminal offense in any country for which they have not received a pardon; have been found in violation of customs or immigration laws; or; fail to meet other requirements.

For more information, visit DHS.gov.

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Posted by Craig at January 13, 2005 08:58 PM