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CBP to Add Additional Workforce

by Lux Joseph 14. April 2014

On every international mission that Commercial Medical Escorts (CME) does, our medical escorts interact with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). On a daily basis over a million individuals enter the United States and each individual arriving at a port of entry to the USA is subject to inspection by a CBP officer. As you can imagine, each international flight has approximately 200-300 passengers on board and some of these flights arrive to a destination at the same time or within minutes.  The high volume of passengers arriving into port of entries around the USA, does not always align with the right number of CBP officers on staff to handle the demand of screening required. This shortage of appropriate staff can affect travelers significantly and ultimately cause major frustration for frequent travelers and those making a tight connection within the USA.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has announced it will be hiring 2,000 new officers in the near future. The project was made possible with Congress allocating $255 million to hire these officers. This increase in staff will significantly impact the CBP’s ability to meet the needs at 44 ports across 18 states in the United States of America. This increase in staff is a 10% growth for CBP, and hopefully the addition of new team members will help the department improve the travel and tourism industry. When Commercial Medical Escorts’ travel department looks for the best routing to transport a patient back home connection time is a key factor in consideration especially at hub airports. The cities that are expected to get an increase in CBP offices are Detroit; Buffalo N.Y., Houston; Los Angeles; New York; Dallas; New Orleans; Laredo, Texas; and Nogales, Ariz.

When any company or organization increases their workforce, looking at the areas of improvement is one of the first steps in ensuring the correct allocation of team members. For the U.S. Customs and Border Protection they are looking at delays in certain ports of entry and the time during the day in which it occurs. During our medical escort missions, some escorts have been delayed up to three hours awaiting CBP process screening. Imagine a delay like this and typically connection time is between 2-5 hours for international flights.  CME hopes to see that this increase in CBP officers will be allocated at current international airports that are struggling with handling the volume of travelers that are entering the USA on a given day.

We must understand that the 2,000 additional workforce will be divided between both airports and land ports of entry. Our travel department advised that although the CBP has not indicated how the force will be allocated, the travel industry is fighting for a significant amount to be positioned at airports, at least 1,000 at the gateway airports.

U.S. Travel has set a goal of having 80% of all arriving travelers screened within thirty minutes. Goals within every organization set a benchmark for achievement. This goal helps airports to staff accordingly to meet the metric based on their specific airport volume. The National Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events, University of South California evaluated that adding a single CBP Officer equates to annual benefits of:

  • $2 million increase in Gross Domestic Product
  • $640,000 saved in opportunity costs
  • 33 jobs added to the economy

It is common knowledge that the current number of CBP Officers is insufficient. Additional CBP Officers will reduce wait times and meet the needs of the travel industry. At Commercial Medical Escorts, we look forward to improvements to processes that improve our medical escort process. 

Global Entry Program Interview Completed

by Lux Joseph 30. August 2013

 

 Are you nervous? Are you concerned? Do you wonder about what will take place? A couple weeks ago I took the opportunity to tell you about the beginning stages of the Global Entry Program.  This past Monday I had my interview with a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer at the Miami International Airport Enrollment Center. This is the last and final stage of becoming accepted into the program. Even if you have nothing to be afraid of and have nothing against your record, having an interview with a government official can still be nerve wracking. However, as someone who completed the interview Monday I can tell you first hand that the process is very straight forward and not stressful at all.

Our appointments were on Monday evening at the Miami International Airport Enrollment Center. There are enrollment centers located throughout the United States and Canada. You can find the one closest to you by visiting the website at: http://www.globalentry.gov/locations.html. If you are located in South Florida, we are fortunate to have two enrollment centers: Fort Lauderdale and Miami. Fort Lauderdale is definitely closer to us, but the availability of appointments is limited. Once you have completed your application and paid your application fee you will receive a notice about being conditionally approved. At that time you receive access to set up an appointment. Our appointments were at 9:20pm and 9:40pm.

Miami International Airport is not a simple airport to navigate if it is your first time visiting so arriving early will ensure plenty of time to find parking and locate the Global Entry office. It is best that you park in the Flamingo Parking Garage or South Parking (uncovered) closest to Terminal J. As you approach the Miami Airport, Terminal J is the terminal located on the left all the way at the end of the strip in the south terminal. Upon entering the terminal, you will want to follow the signs for Lufthansa Check In. The Global Entry Office is directly across from their check-in counter.

I would definitely recommend selecting an appointment late in the evening. The airport was practically empty. Walking through the international terminal the only airlines still operating check in was LAN due to their late flights that depart to South America. The rest of the terminal was empty except for cleaning crew mopping the floors. When we arrived at the enrollment center no one was in line and one individual arrived immediately after us. All three of us were taken into a general room in which there were three stations each assigned with a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer. The interview process was informal and informative. Some of the questions that were asked include:

·         Can you verify your place of current employment?

·         You were recently out of the country visiting the following countries; can you please inform us the purpose of each trip?

·         Can you verify your address of your previous employer?

·         Why are you applying for Global Entry?

The CBP officer scanned our biometric data (finger prints) and a photo was taken. Once that was completed, the CBP officer discussed the program at length and in detail. Immediately following that we were advised that we had been approved. “Wait, that’s all?” That is the exact thought I had when I walked out of the enrollment center at 9:17pm, three minutes prior to the time our interview was scheduled to start.

We were advised that we would be receiving our card within the next couple of weeks and will receive an email within 24 hours confirming approval. The Global Entry program is valid for five years and definitely worth the $100 application fee and the application process. Do not let the fear of government officials or an interview stop you from completing this. The process is not intimidating or intended to be complicated. In the future it will provide ease of travel for travelers internationally. Upon receiving your Global Entry card the CBP officer encouraged us to make sure our Trusted Traveler membership number is attached to any of our airline profiles. This will make you eligible for TSA PreCheck. If you do not have a profile with the airline, ask them to add your number to your reservation. The first time I utilize the kiosk upon arriving into the USA from an international destination I will be sure to inform you how it goes.

CME will be encouraging all of our nurses and physicians to become enrolled in the program. With our medical team traveling often, it would be extremely beneficial to have this in place especially when they are returning into the USA with patients. The extended lines in immigration can be stressful on the everyday traveler and we want to ensure only the smoothest travels for our medical team and their patients.

  

 


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