Stephen Heifetz and Marc Frey
The 10th anniversary of 9/11 will bring many retrospectives. But DHS should not lose sight of current programs and policies and the current political context. That means focusing on security measures that simultaneously bolster the economy. DHS has plenty of opportunities to do both. Here is a “security, tourism and trade” package that can be offered to U.S. allies to: (1) strengthen mutual security efforts; (2) bolster the economy by increasing tourism and trade; and (3) grow alliances with new and old global partners.
The package would contain three program elements outlined below – Global Entry, Visa Waiver, and C-TPAT. In each case, partner countries would implement security measures that enable DHS to focus resources on high-risk travelers and cargo rather than wasting resources on “trusted travelers and cargo.” In exchange, the foreign trusted travelers and cargo would get faster and easier entry into the United States, thereby boosting tourism and trade and furthering alliances.
Global Entry Partnership – Global Entry (www.globalentry.gov) allows fully vetted participants (“trusted travelers”) to skip immigration lines upon arrival at international airports. When the program began, it was open only to U.S. citizens and residents. But DHS has entered into reciprocity partnerships with, or begun reciprocity discussions with, a growing number of countries, including the Netherlands, Germany, Korea, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom and Qatar. The reciprocity partnerships enable foreign trusted travelers to enroll in Global Entry if those individuals are members of analogous programs in their home countries. Then the foreign participants can enter the United States, and spend their tourism money, with fewer delays and greater security.
DHS should be applauded for creating these partnerships, and rapid expansion of Global Entry should be a primary aim for DHS. The deal with foreign countries is straightforward: create a good trusted traveler program (and thereby increase mutual security), enter into a Global Entry partnership, and enable your citizens to come here with less hassle.
Visa Waiver Program – The unfortunately named Visa Waiver Program – it sounds like security standards are being loosened – is actually a security enhancing program. It simultaneously makes it much easier for legitimate travelers to come to the United States and spend their money.
The VWP works like this. In exchange for foreign governments increasing security – by sharing information with the U.S. government, increasing the security features of their citizens’ passports, increasing the security standards at their airports, and taking other measures – their citizens are allowed to come to the United States without a visa. There are currently 36 countries in the VWP, and many more want to join.
The security screening process for VWP travelers is at least as good as, and in many cases it is better than, the security screening process for visa applicants.
Again, the deal for foreign countries is straightforward: increase your security to join the VWP (thereby improving U.S. security), and then your citizens can come to the United States without the hassle of the visa process. This is security, stimulus and alliance-building all rolled into one.
C-TPAT Mutual Recognition – The Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism allows companies to move their cargo into the United States more quickly if they meet DHS security standards. Companies that meet these standards get lower “risk ratings” for their cargo. The cargo then has a lower likelihood of being delayed for further inspection upon entry into the United States. Mutual recognition means that DHS recognizes a foreign program as analogous to C-TPAT. Companies that are members of a recognized foreign program then receive the lower risk ratings given to members of C-TPAT. That is, cargo from a company that is a member of a recognized foreign program moves more quickly into the United States, just like cargo from a company that is a member of C-TPAT.
This is the same deal as outlined above, but for cargo rather than travelers: improve your cargo security (which benefits U.S. security), and get easier access to U.S. markets.
It is surprising that DHS has not packaged these programs and offered them as a way to increase security, stimulate the economy and build alliances. To be sure, DHS has made some effort to bring countries into one or more of these programs, but in the last few years, the approach has been sporadic and ad hoc. There is a need for an energized, sustained and coordinated approach to capitalize on the many opportunities available.
What are these opportunities? Brazil is a great example. By many counts, Brazil is the fifth largest economy in the world, and it is the host of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics. The Global Entry, VWP, C-TPAT set of partnerships is an appropriate package to offer this new strategic partner and dynamic economy. We’d get improved mutual security, more tourism and trade, and a better alliance with a country of growing importance. Taiwan is another candidate. And there are many countries to which we could offer a similar package to advance our security, increase our economic competitiveness, and promote public diplomacy all at once. Such a “triple play” is rare; DHS should not miss this opportunity.