Govt wants speedy screening at more airports

AP News
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Posted: Nov 19, 2009 5:43 PM

The Homeland Security Department wants to expand speedy screening of preapproved, low-risk air travelers arriving in the United States to most international airports in the country.

For more than a year, the department has been testing this program at seven airports across the country and found that participating travelers cut their average waiting time to be screened from 10 minutes to three.

The voluntary program, called Global Entry, would be open to U.S. citizens and permanent residents at least 14 years old. They would have to pay a $100 fee and undergo a background check. If accepted into the program, they can go through expedited screening when they fly into the United States. Ultimately, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a homeland security agency, plans to expand the program to include foreign travelers whose countries have an acceptable prescreening process. For instance, people from the Netherlands who are part of that country's Privium program have been accepted into the pilot program.

The program will begin at the seven airports testing the pilot program and expand to most major international airports. The seven are New York's Kennedy, Houston's George Bush, Washington's Dulles, Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson, Chicago's O'Hare, Los Angeles International and Miami International.

The program allows registered participants to use a self-service kiosk to report their arrival, scan their passport or permanent residency card, submit their fingerprints for biometric verification and make a declaration at the touch-screen kiosk. The kiosk then takes a digital photograph of the traveler as part of the transaction record, issues a receipt and directs the traveler to baggage claim and the exit. Global Entry participants may still be selected randomly by customs officers for additional screening at any time in the process.

The Homeland Security Department published the proposed rule in Thursday's Federal Register. The public has until Jan. 19 to comment on the proposal.

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On the Net:

Federal Register: http://tinyurl.com/ykapdbs

U.S. Customs and Border Protection: http://tinyurl.com/cwolxh