Entire US Senate calls for Israel to be added to expedited screening program

Senators write letter calling on administration to enable Israeli travelers to quickly enter country, in recognition of Jewish state’s 70th anniversary

Illustrative: Terminal 9 at JFK International Airport in New York (photo credit: Martin St-Amant/Wikimedia Commons/File)
Illustrative: Terminal 9 at JFK International Airport in New York (photo credit: Martin St-Amant/Wikimedia Commons/File)

All 100 US senators have reportedly signed a letter calling on the administration to allow Israelis to participate in an accelerated screening travel program, in recognition of the 70th anniversary of Israel’s independence and of diplomatic relations between the countries.

The Senate letter, sent on February 20 to the Department of Homeland Security, calls for adding Israel to the Customs and Border Protection’s Global Entry program, which enables travelers to the US from select countries to quickly enter the country via self-service kiosks at airports, USA Today reported Tuesday.

To participate, travelers are required to provide biographical and travel information, including fingerprints, and pay a $100 fee every five years.

“We strongly support Israel’s membership in CBP’s Global Entry program and urge the efforts towards this goal be accelerated as much as possible to help ensure the best travel experience to strengthen the bonds between our two great democracies,” senators wrote in their letter.

Illustrative: Travelers standing in line at the departure terminal of Ben Gurion International Airport (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

“Israel’s membership in Global Entry would not only provide its passport holders a smoother visit to the US but would also help to make our country safer by enhancing bilateral law enforcement cooperation,” the senators said.

“Only after rigorous scrutiny and clearance by both countries will approved Israeli travelers be extended the facility of expedited entry into the United States through self-service kiosks at US airports.”

Some 1.4 million travelers were enrolled in the program by September 30, according to the report, from 14 countries: Argentina, Australia, Canada, Colombia, Germany, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Panama, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan and the United Kingdom.

Israel has participated in a limited experiment with Global Entry since 2012, the report added, but Israelis do not currently enjoy full membership.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security, Katie Waldman, refused to comment on the report since it “doesn’t comment on congressional correspondence.” She added that the department would respond to the letter “as appropriate,” according to the report.

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