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One of the top priorities for this Administration, and for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), is to facilitate the travel, tourism, and lawful trade essential to our economy while maintaining the highest standards of security. That’s why today President Obama is announcing a major initiative to improve service levels and reduce wait times at our major international airports.
President Obama has directed DHS and the Department of Commerce to lead an effort to develop a national goal for improving the experience of international arrivals – in collaboration with our partners in the private sector – as well as airport-specific action plans.
DHS is committed to making America more welcoming for international visitors. We understand that security and trade are mutually reinforcing, which is good for security and the economy. And we also understand that we cannot achieve our goal of a safe, secure, and welcoming Nation for international visitors without the assistance of our partners in the private sector.
In addition to our work on the President’s directive, we have recently been taking action to improve international experiences for travel and tourism in a number of ways at the Department-level and in coordination with our stakeholders and partners. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) have been tremendous leaders in this respect.
In fact, just yesterday I was in San Antonio, Texas, where I spoke at the 86th Annual American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) Conference and Exposition and highlighted some of the steps the Department is taking to help bolster efforts to protect the aviation system while facilitating travel and tourism. I also had the opportunity to meet with AAAE members to hear firsthand their perspectives on the Department’s efforts to support economic growth and improve service levels. We discussed the importance of Trusted Traveler programs, like TSA Pre✓™ and CBP Global Entry, which are demonstrative of our continued work to improve the customer experience while enhancing security – and are also incredibly popular among the traveling public.
And earlier this month, we announced new openings for the Loaned Executive Program to provide top executive-level and subject matter experts from the private sector an opportunity to share their expertise with the Department. This is an important program, and DHS will continue to partner with the nation’s top executives and industry experts to solve problems, improve processes, and fully realize its mission.
As we work to fulfill the President’s directive, DHS will identify actionable steps to improve the international entry experience for travelers at airports and seaports across this country. We will build on the outstanding innovation and commitment to risk-based security that TSA and CBP have so ably carried forward to date.
It is a distinct privilege of mine as Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security to welcome international travelers and new U.S. citizens to our great nation, and this effort will ensure that continues as we remain a top destination for travel and tourism from abroad and a continued generator of jobs and growth at home.