14 June 2005
New "Fast-Pass" Traffic Lane Opens on California-Mexico Border
Secure lane promotes trade, protects against terrorists, border agency says
By Eric Green
Washington File Staff Writer
Washington -- Another new secure "fast-pass" traffic lane has opened between the cities of San Diego, California, and Tijuana, Mexico, at the world's busiest land-border station. The lane is designed to promote trade between the United States and Mexico and to protect against crime and terrorism.
In a June 10 statement, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said the new lane will speed processing of some of the 55,000 vehicles that enter the United States after they have passed background checks and inspections at the border station in San Ysidro, California, 24 kilometers south of downtown San Diego.
The opening of the new lane brings to three the number of fast-pass traffic lanes now available at the busy port of entry at San Ysidro under what is called the SENTRI program. SENTRI stands for Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection. According to CBP, SENTRI accelerates the inspections of certain low-risk, pre-enrolled crossers at ports of entry.
SENTRI is considered a critical component of the Border Partnership Accord signed by the United States and Mexico in March 2002. The accord called for increased use of technology and enhanced bilateral cooperation to develop a secure and sufficient infrastructure capable of facilitating growing trade, promoting legitimate travel across the border and protecting against crime and terrorism.
Commenting on their border partnership in an April 2003 statement, the United States and Mexico stated they were "committed to building an efficient border that simultaneously facilitates legitimate travel, goods, and services on which our economies depend while assuring the security of our two nations."
According to the statement, both nations "recognize that many challenges lie ahead. Nonetheless, we are confident that the Border Partnership Accord is the vehicle to attain the spirit of cooperation of our two presidents. We will continue our joint work to increase security, minimize delays at ports of entry, and build a border that keeps pace with our growing partnership.”
Another fast-pass lane is scheduled to open later in 2005 at the San Isidro port of entry, said the CBP, the agency within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that deals with protecting U.S. borders.
Almost 60,000 low-risk cross-border travelers are registered in the SENTRI program in the San Diego-Tijuana region, the CBP said.
(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
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