As violent drug cartels take over Mexico and expand their criminal enterprises north, the United States has signed a “trusted traveler” agreement that allows pre-screened Mexican airline passengers to bypass lengthy airport security checkpoints.
The foreigners will get “trusted traveler cards” with fingerprints and other biometric data and they must answer customs declarations questions on touch-screen kiosks before leaving airport inspection areas. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano claims it’s a way to enhance information sharing and mutual security in the face of “ever-evolving, multinational threats.”
About 84 million Mexicans are expected to qualify for the trusted traveler program, according to Mexico’s Interior Ministry Secretary, who signed the agreement on behalf of his country this week. Celebrating the festive occasion, the Mexican government official assured that the new accord will facilitate the U.S. entry of business travelers and tourists who are key factors in economic development, growth of trade and cultural exchange.
Mexicans will get the perk through the U.S. government’s Global Entry Program, which allows participants to obtain security clearance by presenting a “machine-readable” passport or resident card at airport “Global Entry kiosks.” The machines issue the foreign travelers a transaction receipt and directions to baggage claim and the exit into the United States. Applying is easy. Candidates fill out an online application, provide valid identification and answer a few questions from a Customs and Border Protection officer.
While Napolitano was in Mexico finalizing the trusted traveler agreement this week, she also took the opportunity to sign a “letter of intent” to develop a plan for protecting immigrants from criminal attacks as they cross the border–illegally–into the U.S. Mexican officials have long complained that American law enforcement officers stand by as illegal immigrants are robbed, killed or violently beaten. Napolitano has committed to reducing the risk to life and security of migrants, according to the Mexican minister.