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U.S. Aims to Increase Trusted Travelers Amid Terror Threats

The U.S. must bolster its trusted traveler programs as it works to thwart terror threats so that customs workers can focus on people most likely to cause harm, Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin said.

Customs, which runs the so-called Global Entry program and programs focusing on borders with Canada and Mexico, wants to increase the number of participants in those programs to 3.5 million people in two to three years from the approximately 900,000 now registered, Bersin said today at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington. The programs’ automated kiosks would help speed pre-approved travelers through customs lines as they enter the U.S., he said.

“Our inspectors will be able to spend time on those travelers about whom we do not have a level of confidence to hasten your movement through the line,” he said.

Bersin’s comments come almost a year after Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian man, hid explosives in his underwear and tried to detonate them on a Northwest Airlines flight to Detroit. Abdulmutallab had been flagged for secondary screening once his international flight reached the U.S., which “would have been too late,” Bersin said.

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