As everyone flocks to our national parks on Pesach Sheni, there are others that want to join their families in the United States. Entry into the US for me is easy, but for my friends who have family in the States, it can be a daunting task.
Congress members in the US are trying to make it easier for Israeli visitors to enter the US. And it’s a proposal that I think would strengthen the Jewish community abroad.
The Department of Homeland Security has been called on to allow Israel into a program that allows expedited entry into the United States. The letter was sent to the DHS on Wednesday by Congress members Grace Meng (D-NY) and Brian Mast (R-FL).
What the Congress members are recommending is that Israeli visitors be put into the Global Entry program. The program is for “pre-approved, low-risk” travelers. Members can enter automatic kiosks at some airports to expediate their visit. Travelers can put their passport into a reader, use fingerprint verification and do it at a fraction of the time as visitors from non-member countries.
It’s a fast-pass through American airports. The person receives a receipt from the kiosk, and can proceed to baggage and eventually leave the airport.
Hassle-free, the program makes it more comfortable for foreigners to enter the US. There’s no need to wait in long lines, and visiting family members is much less of a hassle.
Enrollment into the program is tedious. Travelers will have to go through a background check and an in-person interview before being enrolled. From a security standpoint, the US is still maintaining high security while making travel much easier.
Israel and the US have a unique bilateral relationship already, and participation in the program would be good for the US economy. National security at both borders will be increased, and it would be much easier to visit family on Pesach Sheni.
Privacy does remain a concern with the Global Entry program. I am concerned about the development of a facial recognition program that U.S. Customers and Border Protection introduced in June 2018. The program will streamline the arrival process, but there’s always the concern of a flyer’s privacy.
As of April 2018, there were 5 million global entry members, and these travelers are able to expedite their entry into 70 airports around the world. US citizens are allowed to enter into the program as well as passport holders from:
- Canada (if enrolled in NEXUS)
- The Netherlands
- The Republic of Korea
- The United Kingdom
Membership applications do require a $100 fee and entry can be done online. An interview will follow a successful background check. Background checks are conducted at Entry Enrollment Centers in the U.S., Canada or Qatar. You also have the option to go through the interview at the arrival location.
Israel’s introduction into the program will make entry into the US faster and safer. For many of my friends in Israel, it eliminates the long airport screenings that people dread.